Dion Phaneuf may be a pending free agent, but he sure isn’t talking like one.
“I want to be part of the Toronto Maple Leafs for a long time. I love playing in the city, but the business side will take care of itself,” Phaneuf said on Tuesday, as per Sportsnet. “I’m sure that we’ll get something done.”
Phaneuf, 28, will see his six-year, $39 million deal expire at the end of the 2013-14 season. He’s been an integral part of the Toronto blueline since being acquired from Calgary in 2010 and, just six months after arriving, was named the 18th captain in franchise history.
According to Leafs GM Dave Nonis, there’s no reason to think Phaneuf’s standing in the organization will change anytime soon.
“Obviously Dion is a core part of our team,” Nonis said in August. “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.”
This past season, Phaneuf 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 are concerns about how much Toronto — a team that has $34 million committed to just 10 players for next year — can afford to spend on Phaneuf and teammate Phil Kessel, who is also a UFA after this year.
To that, the Leafs captain says no worries.
He’s even willing to negotiate during the season.
“We haven’t talked yet, but there’s lots of time left,” Phaneuf. “I think you’re open to everything. For me, I have no problem with doing it during the year.
“That’s what happened with my last deal.”