Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis is optimistic the club can re-sign defenseman Dion Phaneuf to a contract extension.
“Obviously Dion is a core part of our team,” Nonis told NHL.com in a phone interview. “He’s our captain. He’s fit well into Toronto and our group and there’s no reason to think he won’t be here for the long run.”
Phaneuf has one year remaining on his contract (cap hit $6.5 million) before he can become an unrestricted free agent. This past season, he had 28 points in 48 games while averaging 25:11 of ice time. However, his defensive play has at times been criticized (e.g. after his gaffe in Game 4 of the Leafs’ first-round series versus Boston), and there have been reports the Leafs have explored trading him.
For now, Nonis says the Leafs are “focusing on other issues right now,” like getting restricted free agents Nazem Kadri and Cody Franson signed.
Nonis believes Toronto has the cap space to get both deals done before training camp.