Originally written December 24, 2013 on NESN.com:
Toronto Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf will be the best defenseman available if he explores the free-agent market in the summer, but don’t be surprised if the 28-year-old veteran decides to remain in the hockey-crazed city long term. According to CBC Sports’ Elliotte Friedman, “there’s a chance Dion Phaneuf’s extension with the Toronto Maple Leafs is done by New Year’s.” Phaneuf isn’t the ideal No. 1 defenseman because he takes too many risks defensively and fails to play at a high level on a consistent basis in the playoffs, but his impressive offensive talent, scoring production (career 0.55 points per game average) and physical style of play will help him earn a massive extension in the near future. How much will Phaneuf make in his next deal? Back in October, TSN’s Darren Dreger said the Leafs captain “will not take a dime less than 6.5 million.” Phaneuf’s current contract pays him an average of $6.5 million per season, which is the eighth-highest AAV among defensemen. With the s

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