A Rumor That Makes Sens: Chris Phillips to Habs?
Yesterday, we talked about what the Montreal Canadiens should and could do heading towards the trade deadline. The team has needs on both offense and defense, and there are plenty of names being thrown around and speculated as potential fits with the team. Interestingly enough, one player I neglected to mention may be the best fit of all, and ironically, only two hours down the road.
I try not to report too much on rumors. I'll throw out the occasional name if there's a player I'd like to see on the Habs, but mostly I leave the name dropping to the Eklund's of the hockey world. But this next rumor is starting to make the rounds with some pretty reliable sources.
It should be noted that you should probably take this with a grain of salt at this point, but the latest rumor that seems to be pretty persistant is the possibility of Ottawa defenseman Chris Phillips being trades two hours down the highway to the Montreal Canadiens.
The rumor likely got started with someone on Montreal radio speculating that Phillips would be a good fit with the Habs. Since then, Darren Dreger, Bob McKenzie, Pierre McGuire and François Gagnon have all weighed in on the possibility of the d-man taking a road trip down the 401 for a run with the Canadiens, on the team 990 the last couple of days.
And to be perfectly honest, it makes total sens (pun intended).
The 32-year-old native of Calgary Alberta hasn't exactly had the best season this year. Through fifty games, he's only put up 3 assists with a -23 rating. But keep in mind that he plays for the worst Sens team since the 90s. In reality, Phillips is a very good defensive defenseman who's has been very consistent for the Sens for over a decade now. In 913 NHL games, Phillips has put up 59 goals and 172 assists and has a +85 rating. He has 97 games of playoff experience, including 20 games in 2007, 18 in 2003, and 12 in 2003. He's been part of some really good Sens teams.
More importantly, he would probably be very familiar with Montreal and the Habs. Not only does he play the Canadiens often, he was coached by Jacques Martin for years. He even owns a home in the Mont Tremblant area, and he likely wouldn't even have to leave his home in Ottawa.
While any trade for someone like Phillips would obviously be as a rental, the familiarity with the system employed by the coach, the area and potential chemistry with the team could increase the possibility of re-signing Phillips at a reasonable price in the summer, who would definitely be an improvement over the aging Hal Gill and/or Roman Hamrlik.
Not to mention that considering Phillips' age, pending free agency and less-than-average season in 2010-11, it likely wouldn't take more than a 2nd round pick and possibly a low-grade prospect to get him in bleu-blanc-rouge.
Of course, the Canadiens likely won't be the only team in play during the Phillips "sweeps", as he may be one of the more higher profile defensemen in play on the February 28th deadline. You'd have to think that if Bryan Murray had the choice, he would probably rather trade Phillips to a team a little further away than two hours down the highway There are also reports that the Sens could be shopping Sergei Gonchar, but let's be honest, no one's taking that contract. Phillips is an attractive player for many teams, and you'd have to think that one of those teams has to be the defensive-minded Jacques Martin-led group in Montreal.
The Sens could have some other players that might interest the Canadiens. Agitator Chris Neil is said to be on the market, and you can't have a Sens-Habs trade rumor without mentioning Alex Kovalev. But that's all I would say about that. :)
What do you think about the possibility of Chris Phillips on the Canadiens blueline? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!