As the season crossed the 30 game mark and teams begin posturing for playoff position, Senators General Manager Bryan Murray is already contemplating what to do with a certain defenceman scheduled to be an unrestricted defenceman this off season.
Chris Phillips has played more than 1,100 games in the National Hockey League, all in the uniform of the Ottawa Senators but certainly isn’t ready to hang up the skates just yet. As Ken Warren reported in the Ottawa Citizen on Monday night, the defensive defenceman is hoping to continue his career after his current contract expires and would obviously like to do it in an Ottawa Senators uniform. It will be fascinating to watch how the Senators handle negotiations with Phillips over the course of the rest of the season.
After the debacle that was the Daniel Alfredsson negotiation, you would expect the discussions with another assumed lifetime Senator will be delicate ones for the franchise. Add to that the fact that Phillips has the same agent as Alfie (JP Barry) and there is some additional intrigue to the process. As Warren points out in his article, there have been initial conversations but that is as far as it has gone at this point. I would assume the Senators are interested in retaining the veteran defenceman but probably not at “any cost”.
Erik Karlsson, Marc Methot, Jared Cowen and Patrick Wiercioch are all under contract for next season. Mark Borowiecki, who is currently in Binghamton on a two way contract, will have a one way deal and is expected to be a part of the NHL roster next season. Restricted free agent Eric Gryba will also need a new contract and despite his solid play this season, it seems unlikely Joe Corvo gets another contract after this season.
On paper there still appears to be a spot available for Phillips but that assumes that the team doesn’t expect to add through free agency. The Senators have been rumoured to be in the market for a defenceman for the last few weeks so clearly Murray and his staff don’t see the blue line as being entirely settled this season and beyond.
Considering the off season drama involving Alfredsson, it will be really interesting to see how the Senators handle the talks with another potential lifetime Senator. Something to keep an eye on as this season progresses.
Should the Senators bring Chris Phillips back next season and beyond? What would be a fair contract for the one they call “Big Rig”?