Dion Phaneuf may be presented with an opportunity to move to Detroit after all.
The Toronto Maple Leafs captain, who was reportedly drawing interest from the Detroit Red Wings prior to the NHL trade deadline on March 2, appears likely to be the subject of trade discussions between the two clubs at season's end.
Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reports:
Don't dismiss the talk about Maple Leafs' captain Dion Phaneuf being dealt to the Wings, there were serious discussions between the two teams. Those talks were so deep that even Leafs' president Brendan Shanahan may have been involved with his former team at one point with GM Dave Nonis to see if the deal could come to fruition.
With talks going nowhere, the belief is Wings' GM Ken Holland felt it would be better for both sides if they revisited this trade in the off-season and that's why he made the deal for New Jersey blueline Marek Zidlicky.
"What usually happens is these trades get too big to do at the deadline," said a league executive.
"It's OK for the Leafs because they're going nowhere this year and trying to rebuild. The Wings have something pretty good going."
Any attempts to trade Phaneuf are complicated by his burdensome contract, one that carries a $7-million cap hit through to the end of 2018-19. As such, Toronto would likely be called upon to retain salary and/or take on another unfortunate deal, like that of Detroit's Stephen Weiss.
The ever-falling Leafs appear headed for a rebuild, and the jettisoning of Phaneuf is believed to be a starting point in that process.
Whether Detroit, or any other club for that matter, is willing to oblige remains to be seen.