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Senators energized by acquisition of Phaneuf

Former Maple Leafs captain to solidify top four on defense, 'play lots'

by Chris Stevenson / Correspondent

Karlsson on the Sens/Leafs Trade

Feb 9: Erik Karlsson on the Sens/Leafs Trade

Sens Captain Erik Karlsson comments on Dion Phaneuf and the Sens/Leafs trade

  • 05:05 •

OTTAWA -- When Ottawa Senators wing Clarke MacArthur was asked if former teammate Dion Phaneuf would be a good for fit for the Senators, he didn't hesitate to say yes.

"I've been asked in the past what kind of a guy he was and if he's a guy that would fit here and things like that, and obviously he would fit on any team, anyone would want him in their top-four 'D' and I just answered accordingly," said MacArthur, a teammate of Phaneuf's for three seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"I said he's a good guy in the room. I had no idea anything like this was coming or anything like that, but really excited to have him coming in here."

Phaneuf, 30, was acquired Tuesday in a nine-player trade with the Maple Leafs and immediately plugs a big hole in the Senators' top four on the blue line.

Senators general manager Bryan Murray said he did his due diligence when it came to Phaneuf as a player and as a person, and was satisfied with what he learned.

Video: breaks down Phaneuf to Senators Trade

"I never had a doubt about Dion's character," Murray said. "I know we scrutinize people, especially in good markets or big markets and guys that wear the 'C' on the sweater. But I've talked to enough people over the years to know.

"I don't think I've heard one thing other than he's a real good person, he competes, he wants to win. He's been in a tough environment, he's been judged very tough in the environment he's in. We don't expect him to come in and be a savior. We expect him to come in here and just be the hockey player he is." 

The Senators are 30th in the NHL in shots-against per game and penalty killing, and 27th in goals-against per game.

Senators coach Dave Cameron plans on using Phaneuf in the second pairing with Cody Ceci starting Wednesday against the Detroit Red Wings (7 p.m. ET; TVA Sports, SN, FS-D, NHL.TV). Marc Methot and captain Erik Karlsson make up the first pair.

Phaneuf's arrival will allow Cameron to shift Mark Borowiecki or Patrick Wiercioch to the third pairing on the left side with Chris Wideman.

"He's going to play lots," Cameron said. "He'll probably play with everybody at some point and he's going to play lots."

Video: Feb 9: Dave Cameron on the Sens/Leafs Trade

Cameron called Phaneuf's acquisition a win-win for enabling him to slot other defensemen in better positions and for the example the veteran can set for Ottawa's young defensemen.

"You bring in a guy who's not only going to log a lot of minutes, but works hard in practice, is a fitness nut, looks after himself," Cameron said. "I think he's going to show them how to be a pro, he's going to show them how to be a pro every day, because that's the biggest challenge for young guys is being able to do it every day.

"You bring in a guy that's going to play lots of minutes and you can bump guys down, it's a win-win. All the other stuff, the leadership stuff and the off-ice stuff, the work ethic and that, as a coach you can never have enough guys that do that."

Karlsson said he thought Phaneuf will add to the Senators' young leadership group. Veterans like MacArthur, Chris Phillips and Milan Michalek, the 31-year-old forward who goes to the Maple Leafs in the trade, have been injured for most of the season.

"I think he's going to bring his experience and his knowledge and I think that's going to help a lot of guys on our team," Karlsson said. "It's going to take a lot of pressure off some guys and those are the kinds of players we need right now and we want, so for us I think it's a good thing."

While welcoming Phaneuf, Cameron said he wasn't happy to part ways with Michalek, defenseman Jared Cowen, who had struggled to get into the lineup, and forward Colin Greening, who was playing in the minors.

Video: Feb 9: Clarke MacArthur on the Sens/Leafs Trade

"That's the other side of this whole thing. You lose guys that you have a relationship with, you spend a lot of time with and you really appreciate," Cameron said. "All the guys that are leaving, you hope that they continue their careers or they jump start it or whatever. I talked to [Cowen] today and I really wish him the best. He struggled to find some time here, so it's a fresh opportunity for him and deep down you really hope that he goes and seizes it, and gets back to the player that he knows he can be and thinks he can be.

"Same with [Michalek]. He's that guy we talk about that did everything the right way for all your young guys, every day, and if you wanted an example of what it was like to be a pro every day, you just pointed to him. That's what this business is about. You don't acquire good players without giving up good players."

As a player who has been on each side of the Battle of Ontario, MacArthur said he was surprised to see the two teams pull off such a big trade.

"It's crazy, I can't believe it," he said. "You guys know better than I do the history of the trades; hasn't been much as far as making an actual trade between these two teams. To get a captain from Toronto and all the other guys that came in the deal? Anything can happen in hockey. With the way it is now it's such a hard market to make a trade, so it's just really surprising."

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