Phaneuf will remain a Leaf for now

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The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Lost amid the speculation over the Toronto Maple Leafs’ contract negotiations with Nazem Kadri and Cody Franson are questions about the future of Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf.

Phaneuf, 28, will be eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer. His uneven play over the past two seasons and the expense of re-signing him (his current contract is worth an annual cap hit of $6.5 million) led to his name being bandied about this summer’s rumor mill.

Leading up to the NHL draft, Phaneuf was linked to Colorado Avalanche center Paul Stastny, who also carries an expensive cap hit this coming season ($6.6 million) and is eligible for UFA status next summer.

Nothing came of the speculation, but it hasn’t quelled anticipation this coming season could be Phaneuf’s last in Toronto.

Leafs GM Dave Nonis – who’s been focused of late on re-signing Kadri and Franson – said he hasn’t opened contract extension talks with Phaneuf, but suggests “there’s no reason to think he won’t be here for the long haul.”

If so, Phaneuf must accept a shorter term for less money. Meanwhile, don’t expect him to be dealt in the near future. There’s no one available via trade, free agency or in the Leafs system who can log the minutes Phaneuf does.

FINNISH FLASH GIVES FINAL ANSWER SOON

Anaheim Ducks fans won’t have to wait much longer for Teemu Selanne to make a decision about his future.

Selanne recently told Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register he’ll know by next week what he intends to do.

The 43-year-old winger prefers top-six minutes and power play time, but seemed to suggest he’d accept a lesser role if younger teammates outperform him.

“My point is, if they’re better than I am, I am expecting and accepting a lesser role,” Selanne told Stephens. “But if I’m better, I need to play more. I need to play more.”

Kyle Palmieri, Emerson Etem and Jakob Silfverberg are among those who could pose a challenge to Selanne.

RON FOR HIRE

Teams in need of an affordable, experienced blueliner could be in touch with former Winnipeg Jets defenseman Ron Hainsey next month.

Steve Simmons of The Toronto Sun recently claimed he’d heard Hainsey (who is coming off a five-year, $22.5-million contract) could be had for the bargain price of $1 million.

Hainsey’s offensive numbers have steadily declined since his career-best 39 points in 2008-09, but last season the 32-year-old tied for third in the NHL in blocked shots with 123 and averaged the third-most ice time on the Jets (22:51).

It’s been speculated Hainsey’s active role on behalf of the NHL Players’ Association during collective bargaining negotiations could have him blackballed by NHL GMs, but as the new season approaches, he should attract interest from teams (like Colorado and Carolina) lacking affordable, experienced blueline depth.

Rumor Roundup appears weekdays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).

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