The reported $49 million deal would make Phaneuf one of the wealthiest defensemen (according to cap hits) in the NHL. Phaneuf's current six-year, $39 million contract is set to expire this offseason, making him one of five current Toronto defensemen set to become free agents this offseason.
The 29-year-old captain declined to comment when asked about the contract rumors on Friday, saying he'd rather let his agent do the talking.
The Maple Leafs are already paying forward Phil Kessel a whopping $8 million per season, but the financial state of the league allows for both big cap hits. The NHL salary cap is expected to rise to $71 million next season thanks to the league's recent $5.2 billion, 12-year Canadian television rights deal with Rogers Communications Inc. Therefore, Toronto will conceivably be able to fit both of their star players under the cap.
Phaneuf leads all Leafs players in ice-time, has 14 points and is plus-10 through 38 games this season. He was named captain in 2010, shortly after arriving from the Calgary Flames via trade.