With the NHL's annual trade deadline just days away, the suspense is really beginning to take hold around the league. On Friday evening, the Buffalo Sabres traded Ryan Miller and Steve Ott to the St. Louis Blues and the New York Rangers re-signed would-be free agent defenseman Dan Girardi to a new six-year contract. Unfortunately, the latter two were on my personal radar as possible acquisitions for the Los Angeles Kings. But while players are being taken off the trading block, more are being added to it. Enter Chris Phillips.
A native of Calgary, Alberta, the veteran defenseman spent his entire 16-year NHL career with the Ottawa Senators. Understandably, it would be difficult to imagine Chris Phillips sporting another team's jersey. Of course, we said the same thing about the aforementioned Ryan Miller who, prior to Friday, spent the entirety of his career with one team. As for Phillips, while he's never been the most celebrated of blueliners, he has (and still does) bring a lot of good to the table.
While he does block a fair amount of shots (72 in 50 games this season), Chris Phillips is a bit more physical than most think. This season, the blueliner has used his 6'3, 220-pound frame to his advantage by dishing out 102 hits. At 19:48, his average ice time is decent. Unfortunately at a ratio of 36/6, he has committed far more giveaways than takeaways this season which may come back to haunt the Kings or whichever team decides to trade for him.
Turning 36 on March 9, Phillips would be the elder statesman on a Los Angeles blueline that could use a bit more experience. While he may not be as defensively-talented as former King Rob Scuderi, Phillips could fill another void left by the current Pittsburgh Penguin. In addition to his experience, Phillips's attitude is known to be second-to-none. As a consummate professional, the veteran D-man can certainly help the likes of Jake Muzzin and Alec Martinez with their respective games while complementing Drew Doughty on the back end.
If the Kings are looking for a goal-scorer in Phillips, they can forget it. The Senators defenseman has just one goal this season and just 12 total in his last four years. Even his 12 assists this season aren't anything special. The same goes for his -8 rating thus far.
When he was chosen by Ottawa first-overall in 1996, there were plenty of jeers. Despite the unpopularity of said choice, Chris Phillips moulded himself into an NHL mainstay, helping convert one of the worst teams in NHL history into a championship contender. But with the Senators on the downturn, aging assets like Phillips might be easier to unload. While it hasn't been discussed in great detail, the Sens likely wouldn't be asking for much in return for Phillips. Perhaps a young defenseman (Jake Muzzin perhaps) will accommodate the needs of the Ottawa Senators. In addition, Phillips is set to be an unrestricted free agent at season's end - so unlike Christian Ehrhoff, the Kings won't have worry about taking any cap hits beyond this season.
Overall, Chris Phillips can bring a plethora of leadership, experience and exceptional attitude to Los Angeles. Also, as someone who grew up in Ottawa but holding a fair deal of disdain for the Senators, nothing would give me more pleasure than seeing a career-long Ottawan win a Stanley Cup with another team; my team.
As tempting as said reasons are, especially the latter, Chris Phillips's prone to turn the puck over may hurt the Kings in the playoffs or even during a pivotal game during this regular season. He can hit, he can skate and he can lead - but it may not be enough to accommodate what the Los Angeles Kings really need for a serious playoff push.