The Toronto Maple Leafs could have another big deal in store before Monday’s 3 p.m. ET trade deadline.
According to Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos, the Maple Leafs are trying “real hard” to move captain Dion Phaneuf.
“It’s abundantly clear that he won’t be the captain next year,” Kypreos said Sunday on Sportsnet 590 The Fan. “So the sooner they can get him out, the better. They’re trying real hard to make that deal going into (Monday).
“It’s a gut feel, but I think (by) this time (Monday), Phaneuf is a member of another hockey club.”
Kypreos added Phaneuf appeals to a handful of teams in need of an upgrade on the back end, but the Leafs will have to retain part of his salary in order to make any trade work.
“It’s a matter of that contract,” Kypreos explained. “As soon as there’s a number that can be agreed upon, he will not be a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.”
Phaneuf signed a seven-year, $49 million contract extension during the 2013-14 season. He will become an unrestricted free agent after the 2020-21 season.
The Leafs are in the midst of a long-term rebuild. They have already traded roster players such as David Clarkson, Cody Franson, Mike Santorelli, and Daniel Winnik and are expected to be active before Monday's 3 p.m. trade deadline.
The Globe and Mail reported last month that core players such as Phaneuf and forward Phil Kessel are not part of the organization's blueprint moving forward.
“Mr. Phaneuf and Mr. Kessel are not in the plan," Cathal Kelly wrote on Feb. 12. "The goal now is extracting as much value as possible for them. That translates either to young players who are high-ceiling projects and draft picks.
The 29-year-old defenceman has registered three goals, 20 assists, 89 penalty minutes with a minus-6 rating this season.
He has only appeared in seven playoff games since Toronto acquired him in a trade with the Calgary Flames on January 31, 2010.