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Maple Leafs sign Phaneuf to $49M, 7-year contract

AP - Sports
Maple Leafs sign Phaneuf to $49M, 7-year contract
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Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf (3) skates during practice on the outdoor rink for the NHL Winter Classic hockey game against the Detroit Red Wings at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich., Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013. The game is scheduled for New Year's Day. The Maple Leafs signed captain Phaneuf to a $49 million, seven-year deal to keep the three-time All-Star defenseman under contract through the end of the 2020-21 season. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) -- The Toronto Maple Leafs signed captain Dion Phaneuf to a $49 million, seven-year deal to keep the three-time All-Star defenseman under contract through the end of the 2020-21 season.

''If you look at his numbers since he was a rookie, they stack up very favorably with the top defensemen in the league,'' Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis said Tuesday. ''He's a player that is getting better and a player we can build around to be a contender.''

The 28-year-old Phaneuf helped Toronto earn a spot in the last postseason for the first time since 2004.

He decided against testing the market as a free agent in the summer, when he potentially could have made as much money - or more - with a consistently winning franchise.

''It was an easy decision for me to stay here and be a part of the Toronto Maple Leafs,'' Phaneuf said. ''I think we're building something special.''

Phaneuf has four goals and 11 assists this season, and leads Toronto in ice time with more than 24 minutes per game. He has 110 goals and 335 points in his career, which began during the 2005-06 season with the Calgary Flames. Midway through the 2009-10 season, the Leafs acquired Phaneuf from Calgary in a seven-player deal. Toronto also got Keith Aulie and Fredrik Sjostrom as part of the trade in exchange for Ian White, Matt Stajan, Nick Hagman and Jamal Mayers.

The Maple Leafs announced the deal at a news conference next to Michigan Stadium, where they will play the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday.

''I'm very fortunate to have my family with me to celebrate the Winter Classic with this great news,'' Phaneuf said.

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