Nonis wants people to look at Phaneuf’s numbers

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It was undoubtedly a little shot at the so-called “advanced statistics” crowd that has continually criticized his team. When Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis met with the media today in Ann Arbor to discuss captain Dion Phaneuf’s seven-year contract extension, he told people to look at the numbers.

Look at the minutes Phaneuf plays. (That would be 24:21 per game.)

Look at his points. (That would be 15 in 39 games this season.)

Look at who he plays against. (That would be the toughest competition in the NHL, according to one measure.)

Granted, even after looking at the numbers, there will be those who doubt Phaneuf is worth $49 million over seven years. A $7 million cap hit puts the 28-year-old in some fairly elite company, right up there with Norris Trophy winners and key members of Stanley Cup champions. But Nonis wanted to make one thing clear: the Leafs didn’t re-sign their captain simply because they didn’t have any other options. Which is to say, it wasn’t a matter of, well, what else are we going to do? Let him walk away for nothing?

“If you’re signing players because you don’t have anyone to replace them, you’re making mistakes,” said Nonis. “We signed Dion to this deal because he deserved it.”

And where are the Leafs in terms of contending for a Stanley Cup?

“We think we’re adding pieces that will help us win,” said Nonis, who feels Phaneuf is the kind of player a team can build around in the long term.

“We feel we have some pieces coming, but we’re not where we need to be at.”