The rumored seven-year, $49 million dollar contract extension for Dion Phaneuf would be a giant off-ice win for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
If the Maple Leafs are able to sign their Captain to the rumored contract, they’d be signing the defenseman to a contract well below his market value. Phaneuf could easily earn a contract that would pay him $8 million a season if he decided to test free-agency.
There’s no question a small market team desperate to make a splash and earn headlines in their city would throw big money at Phaneuf to be a cornerstone of their franchise. Although Phaneuf receives an unfair amount of criticism, his talent places him among the top defensemen in the league which is what makes his rumored deal with the Maple Leafs an incredible bargain.
What makes the deal such a favorable situation for Toronto is that they have zero leverage when it comes to negotiating. Phaneuf’s agents are well aware of what their client could demand if he would hit free-agency, however, it’s clear Phaneuf wants to stay with the Maple Leafs. Otherwise, why else would he accept only a small increase in salary to stay in a market that has been mostly negative towards him, especially considering he’s virtually single-handily held the team’s blue line together since the day he arrived in town.
Phaneuf currently leads the team with a +13 rating, nearly double the rating of the second-best player on the roster. He also leads the team in ice-time with 24:21 minutes, almost three minutes more than Jake Gardiner who sits second on the team in ice-time with 21:34 minutes per game. Phaneuf is also second on the team in hits, blocks and points by a defenseman, proving he’s able to help his team in multiple areas.
Considering Toronto would have absolutely no chance of finding a player who could replace Phaneuf given all that he’s able to provide the Maple Leafs, signing him to a cap-hit of only $7 million for seven years would be a great deal for the club. It’s not like the team would be able to acquire P.K. Subban in the offseason or pry away Duncan Keith or Shea Weber from their respective teams. Phaneuf has proven he can withstand the pressures of playing in Toronto while performing at a high-level.
That accomplishment in itself should be worth $7 million a year, let alone everything else the Captain provides his club.