One year after trading with the Boston Bruins for Andrew Raycroft, the Toronto Maple Leafs GM made another splash Friday, reeling in Vesa Toskala from the San Jose Sharks – by far the most attractive goalie available on the trade market this off-season.
Forward Mark Bell also comes in the deal for Toronto’s 2007 or ’08 first-round pick (that’s San Jose’s option), a 2007 second-round pick and a 2009 fourth-round selection. The Leafs went into Friday night’s draft with the 13th overall selection.
Toskala, 30, has one year remaining on a contract that pays him only US$1.375 million. Sources told The Canadian Press that Ferguson was already working on signing him to an extension.
Ferguson has been under immense pressure in Toronto to make a big move and he made a solid one Friday. Toskala, 26-10-1 with a 2.35 goals-against average and .908 save percentage last season. has long been viewed as a capable No. 1 goalie but had to share the net with Evgeni Nabokov in San Jose. That Sharks GM Doug Wilson didn’t receive any roster players in exchange suggests he will be busy come the July 1 opening of free agency.
The Boston Bruins, according to a source, were also heavily involved in trying to land Toskala. But it might have cost them having to pick up Bell, who disappointed this past season in San Jose and has $4.5 million left on his deal over the next two seasons.
The Bruins will continue to look for an upgrade in goal.
“There are a lot of goalies out there,” Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli told reporters Friday.
Chiarelli has reportedly been in talks with the Minnesota Wild about goalie Manny Fernandez, who became expendable when Nicklas Backstrom replaced him as the starter and was signed to a $6.2-million, two-year extension. Fernandez, 32, has $9.25 million left over the final two years of his contract.
Toronto’s big move Friday comes on the heels of a big trade late Thursday night between Chicago and Calgary, one that still hadn’t been made official. But sources confirm the Blackhawks unloaded defenceman Adrian Aucoin and the $8 million he has remaining over the final two years on his contract to the Flames for Andrei Zyuzin. The deal required the veteran Aucoin to waive his no-trade clause, which he finally did.