The Toronto Maple Leafs‘ front office has been a busy one this year. They shored up their goaltending situation in trading for Los Angeles Kings backup Jonathan Bernier to pair with James Reimer. They successfully navigated through the relatively unnecessary Nazem Kadri contract holdout, resigning him to a two-year deal. After that, the Leafs shifted focus to one of their stars, inking an eight-year, $64 million extension with Phil Kessel.
Now, it appears the staff has set their sights on resigning their captain. Defenseman Dion Phaneuf is in the final year of his deal, set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. The 28-year-old defenseman has been an anchor for Toronto’s blue line, and the team could ill-afford to let him test the market this summer.
If the recent rumors are true, Leafs fans can exhale a little bit. According to CBC‘s Elliotte Friedman, a contract extension for Phaneuf is imminent. In fact, Friedman believes the deal could come before we enter 2014. Terms and length have yet to be clarified, but reports are saying Phaneuf won’t be interested in going any lower than the $6.5 million per year he’s been playing for on his latest deal.
As of now, Toronto only has 12 players under contract for next year and beyond, which allows them the space to retain Phaneuf. At the same time, they have more than a few players they may want to bring back next year as well, so they’ll need to make sure they leave themselves enough wiggle room. Along with Phaneuf, the team has shown interest in resigning Cody Franson, and Bernier’s deal ends after this year as well.
Regardless, if the reports are true, Maple Leaf nation may be able to ring in the new year to the news of Phaneuf resigning with Toronto.