Sens flip Phanuef for Shultz

Just days after acquiring Dion Phaneuf to shore up their defense, the Ottawa Senators flipped the 30-year-old rearguard to the Edmonton Oilers for Justin Schultz, who played his way out of the city of Champions.

The Senators shocked the hockey world when they traded with their division rival, the Toronto Maple Leafs. But this move may have been even more shocking.

Phaneuf made his debut with Ottawa last night going -1 with 0 shots on net and 21:42 TOI making the most critical mistake of the game by letting Henrik Zetterberg walk around him like he wasn’t there and score the crucial two nothing tally.

A week ago, both Schultz and Phaneuf heard their names in the rumour mill, and now they’ve been swapped for each other.

The Senators were runner-up in signing Schultz back in the summer of 2012, and after today’s trade, Sens GM Bryan Murray was pleased in getting their guy and shedding Phanuef’s monster salary.

“Schultz was the one that got away, so it’s great we got a second chance to get him. He’s a young, puck-moving D-man at just 25-years-old, and he is going to cost us a hell of a lot less in the long run!” Murray said.

“Pairing Schultz and Karlsson on the backend of a powerplay will give the Senators the most potent offense with the man advantage,” Murray continued.

It’s a homecoming of sorts for Phaneuf, who grew up in Edmonton and played his minor hockey for the South Side Athletic Club, and then later for the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League (WHL).

He’s got 424 points in 825 NHL games, and his defensive acumen should greatly help the floundering Oilers. This season, Phaneuf has 24 points in 52 games.

After going from the Maple Leafs to the Senators, Phaneuf now joins the Oilers after starting his career with the Flames. To complete the Canadian rivalries, Phaneuf should look to join the Habs and Canucks.

Phaneuf, who has now played for four of the seven Canadian teams, says he wants to end his career in Canada.

“Edmonton is great, but I wouldn’t mind finishing up in Montreal, Vancouver or Winnipeg,” Phaneuf said.

Schultz, who had every NHL team begging for his services after he spurned the Anaheim Ducks, the team who drafted him, was one of the most sought-after college free agents. Ultimately, he chose the Oilers because of the playing time, and the chance to bond and party with younger teammates.

During the lockout, which delayed Schultz’s NHL debut, he put up 48 points in 34 games, dazzling in his play and providing excitement for Edmonton. However, he never progressed as well as management had hoped, and now he’s on his way to a fresh start.

“Ottawa was number two when I made my choice nearly four years ago, and I have been thinking how much differently it could have gone,” Schultz said. “I’m thrilled to play with the league’s best defenseman since Bobby Orr in Erik Karlsson and cannot wait to showcase my skills for the fans of the Senators.”

Todd McLellan, head coach of the Oilers, said he is happy to have Schultz gone for a more established defenceman.

“Schultz was young and had too much fun off the ice,” McLellan said. “Plus, he didn’t contribute defensively. Dion is much more truculent and will keep our team in line.”

The Oilers are offering free name and number exchanges on all Schultz jerseys for those wanting to switch to Phaneuf’s No. 2. Andrej Sekera, who previously wore 2, was threatened by Phaneuf is he didn’t change.

“Dion is big force in the locker-room, so whatever he says goes. I think he already demanded captaincy, too,” Sekera said.