Toronto Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis intends to sign Dion Phaneuf to new deal but ‘it has to be the right number’

Speaking with Sportsnet 590 The Fan on Thursday morning, Nonis praised Phaneuf for a growth in leadership ability, as well as for logging hard minutes on the blue line. The 28-year-old is logging a team-high average of 24 minutes 17 seconds of ice time a night.

“You look at how many minutes he plays every night; he plays against the other team’s top players,” Nonis told the station. “He doesn’t complain about how he’s used. I think, at the end of the day, we’re going to try to get Dion signed. Whether or not that comes to fruition, you never know. But it’s our intention to get him signed.”

The contract — as Nonis has said before — will have to fit within certain parameters.

“It has to be the right number, it has to fit for us so we can continue to build our team,” he told The Fan. “So whether it’s next week or March 1, it doesn’t make a difference to me.”

Phaneuf is in the final year of a six-year contract worth US$39-million. His cap hit is already more than double that of the next defenceman down the chart (Carl Gunnarsson, US$3.15-million). He is also the second major contract issue the Leafs need to resolve.