Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf may be traded one day.
But if that happens, he says it won’t be him orchestrating the move.
“I never have and I won’t,” Phaneuf told TSN this week, in response to whether he’s ever demanded a trade. “I like the direction that our team is going. I’m all in. I said it this summer when I was asked about it, but I’m all in.
“I’m here to give everything that I have for this organization and for this team.”
It’s been largely assumed that, in the wake of a massive organizational overhaul and the Phil Kessel trade, Phaneuf’s the next logical piece to go as part of Toronto’s rebuild.
He, along with the likes of Joffrey Lupul and Tyler Bozak, have seem their names bandied about in trade rumors and will probably continue to for the foreseeable future.
But like Lupul and Bozak, Phaneuf would be tough to move.
The NHL’s current financial landscape, where several teams are tight to the cap and facing uncertainty with the Canadian dollar, makes taking on the remainder of Phaneuf’s contract — six years at $7 million per — pretty difficult.
Sure, the Leafs could retain some salary. But would they really go down that road again? They’re already on the hook for $1.2 million a season over the next seven years for the Kessel deal.
So, it stands to reason Phaneuf could be in Toronto for a while. Throw in the fact new head coach Mike Babcock is expecting — nay, predicting — big things, and it could explain why Phaneuf is “all in” on the team.
“There’s been lots of adversity over my time here, but I also understand and like the moves that we’ve made this summer and I’m very excited to get going,” he said. “I’m as excited as I’ve ever been to be a Toronto Maple Leaf.”
Related: Kessel trade shows Leafs are trying to ‘build this thing the right way’