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Updated: Tue, 31 Dec 2013 11:33:52 GMT | By CBC Sports, cbc.ca

Dion Phaneuf agrees to 7-year contract extension with Leafs

Maple Leafs defenceman Dion Phaneuf will make $49 million US over the life of his newly announced seven-year contract extension. Canadian Press

Maple Leafs defenceman Dion Phaneuf will make $49 million US over the life of his newly announced seven-year contract extension. Canadian Press

Dion Phaneuf can clear his mind of any contract issues entering Wednesday’s Winter Classic in Detroit.

The Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday announced they have signed the veteran defenceman to a seven-year contract extension worth $49 million US that begins next season.

“This is a very proud day for me and my family,” said Phaneuf in a statement released by the NHL team, which will hold a news conference later Tuesday at Michigan Stadium, where the Leafs and Detroit Red Wings will tangle on Wednesday (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 12:30 p.m. ET). “I’m very honoured to be the captain of this historic franchise and to maintain the opportunity to play and represent the Toronto Maple Leafs for many years to come.

"We have passionate fans and a dedicated ownership group. I have great teammates and look forward to growing with them and achieving our goal of winning.”

The 28-year-old tops the Maple Leafs with a plus-13 rating this season and is second in scoring to Cody Franson (20 points) among Toronto defencemen with 15 points on four goals and 11 assists. He also ranks second in hits (102) and blocked shots (76), and third in penalty minutes.

Phaneuf, who regularly plays against the opposition's best forwards, leads all Maple Leafs in ice time, averaging 24 minutes 21 seconds in the first half of this season.

"Dion is our team leader and has been a pillar in our building process,” said Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis. “He has proven to be a very durable and reliable defenceman in all facets of the game. He plays big minutes in every situation for us and we’re pleased to have him under contract for the next seven seasons.”

Since his NHL debut in 2005-06 with the Calgary Flames, only nine other NHL defencemen have more goals per game than Phaneuf’s 0.172.

On Jan. 31, 2010, then-Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke acquired Phaneuf in a seven-player trade with Calgary. Forwards Niklas Hagman, Matt Stajan and Jamal Mayers and defenceman Ian White headed to the Flames, with forward Fredrik Sjostrom and defensive prospect Keith Aulie also acquired by Toronto.

For all the criticism Phaneuf has drawn since his arrival, he has only missed 18 games — 16 with a leg laceration in November 2010 and two this season due to a suspension for hitting Boston's Kevan Miller from behind.

Toronto has a record of 125-104-32 with Phaneuf in the lineup.

Drafted ninth overall by Calgary in 2003, the Edmonton native has appeared in 639 NHL regular-season contests, scoring 110 goals and 355 points while racking up 851 minutes in penalties.

Phaneuf broke into the NHL in the 2005-06 campaign and was a finalist for the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie.

Two seasons later, the three-time all-star was a Norris Trophy finalist, finishing among the top three in voting as the NHL's best defenceman. He was also named to the First All-Star team.

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