The Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings continue to negotiate a deal which would see captain Dion Phaneuf going to Detroit today, but the sticking point now appears to be Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith.
The possible deal would see the Leafs get Smith and forward Stephen Weiss in a deal for Phaneuf with the Red Wings assuming the remaining six years on Phaneuf’s deal at $7 million per season.
The talks, a source told thn.com, have been extensive over the past couple of hours. The Red Wings have to decide whether they want a No. 4 or 5 defenseman making that much money and having that long a term and whether they’re that much better off with Phaneuf and without Smith on their blueline.
Smith, 26, carries a salary cap hit of $1.3 million this season and will be an restricted free agent this summer. Weiss, who is the nephew of Leafs assistant coach Steve Spott, carries a $4.9 million cap hit for each of the next three seasons. Smith is a native of Toronto who played junior hockey for the St. Michael's Buzzers before going to the University of Wisconsin.
The Red Wings were in the hunt for a right-shot defenseman – who isn’t? – but might be willing to take Phaneuf, who shoots left. Among the right-shot defensemen who are unrestricted free agents after this season and might be available are Mike Green of the Washington Capitals, Zbynek Michalek of the Arizona Coyotes and Marek Zidlicky of the New Jersey Devils. Roman Polak of the Maple Leafs has a year remaining on his deal at $3.1 million.
The Red Wings might decide the price for Phaneuf is too high, particularly with the salary cap ramifications once the Weiss deal expires, and might not do the deal. That would then delay the certain trade of Phaneuf to the draft this summer.