Ann Arbor, MI, United States (4E Sports) – The Toronto Maple Leafs have announced the signing of defenseman Dion Phaneuf to a seven-year contract extension reportedly worth $7 million annually.
Phaneuf and Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis jointly announced the deal at a press conference Tuesday before the Maple Leafs practiced at Michigan Stadium for Wednesday’s 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic against the Detroit Red Wings.
Before the deal was signed, Phaneuf was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
Nonis indicated that the contract Phaneuf signed is a market-value contract for a top defenseman who is 28 years old and in his ninth NHL season.
“Dion was going to get seven years regardless. If we weren’t going to pay him, he was going to get it,” Nonis said. “From our standpoint it wasn’t that Dion can’t play longer. He was eligible for an eighth year.”
“I think he’ll play beyond the term of his contract. He’s not in his 30s, he’s in his 20s. His game is rounding out, it’s getting better. I don’t think there is any reason why he can’t play the seven years and look for another contract,” he added.
Nonis said Phaneuf’s leadership is another reason why the team opted not to wait in signing him to a contract extension.
Phaneuf’s contract extension gives Toronto six players who are signed through the 2017-18 season, including Phil Kessel, David Clarkson, James van Riemsdyk, Joffrey Lupul and Tyler Bozak.
Phaneuf has four goals and 11 assists this season, and leads Toronto in ice time with more than 24 minutes per game.