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Toronto Maple Leafs place pricey defenceman Jeff Finger on waivers

TORONTO - Another highly paid player could be heading to the American Hockey League.

The Toronto Maple Leafs placed defenceman Jeff Finger on waivers Tuesday and intend to assign him to their minor-league affiliate if he goes unclaimed, according to coach Ron Wilson.

Finger is earning US$3.5 million in the third year of a $14-million, four-year contract he signed in July 2008. While the Leafs will gain some cap space with his departure, Wilson indicated the move was made because of where Finger currently sits on the team's depth chart.

"It's not so much just a business move," Wilson told reporters after practice Tuesday. "We've got seven guys better than him right now. That's what it came down to."

The 30-year-old Finger didn't appear in either of the Leafs opening two regular season games after suffering a knee injury during training camp.

He was ultimately bumped by Brett Lebda's expected return from a shoulder injury this week. That will give the Leafs seven healthy defencemen ahead of Finger.

"He understands the situation," said Wilson. "Because of a couple of injuries, he didn't get a great opportunity in camp. But clearly the other guys have performed very well."

If Finger goes unclaimed on waivers by Wednesday at 12 p.m. ET, he'll join a couple other players with big contracts in the AHL.

Veteran defenceman Wade Redden is collecting $6.5 million while playing for the Hartford Wolf Pack, forward Michael Nylander is earning $3 million with the Rochester Americans and defenceman Sheldon Souray is earning $4.5 million while on loan to the Hershey Bears.

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