Raycroft wants ice time

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:12 AM ET

BOSTON -- Andrew Raycroft soon could be calling Canada home.

With the Boston Bruins making it clear the Belleville native is no longer in their goaltending plans, the guessing game has begun as to where the 2003-04 Calder Trophy winner is headed. Much of that interest comes from north of the border, where the Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers could miss the playoffs because of mesh deficiencies. And as Raycroft sat on the Bruins bench last night, he probably was thinking about how he might fit in a few feet away with Toronto.

"It's so much fun to go to Canada and play," he said before the game. "Without a doubt, I'd love to go to any of those teams.

"I just want to play at this point. It has been a long season and the past couple of months I haven't played. I'm just looking forward to seeing how the summer unfolds. Whatever it is, I'm looking forward to getting in a rhythm and playing again."

There also is the chance Raycroft will get invited to play for Team Canada at the world hockey championship next month in Latvia to further showcase himself.

Raycroft began this season in a battle with up-and-coming Finn Hannu Toivonen. Then both were hurt and 32-year-old Tim Thomas played his way into management's heart, losing just one regulation game in 10 starts. Thomas signed a relatively cheap three-year deal and with Toivonen challenging for the No. 1 job in 2006-07, Raycroft was the odd man out.

Unfortunately, Raycroft is two years away from unrestricted free agency, so a team such as the Leafs would have to explore a trade if they really want him. Such deals within a division are rare. So expect the Bruins to qualify him at $1.35 million US and deal him to the highest bidder, a process that could take until the end of next year's training camp.

"That definitely can happen," Raycroft said worriedly. "But there will be a lot going on in the summer and that's why it's so hard to speculate right now. There are going to be a lot of things change here in this organization (as it replaces fired general manager Mike O'Connell), a lot of (player) personnel changes, so it's hard to say which way it will go."

"Before the deadline, I was kind of expecting to go somewhere and it hurt a lot," Raycroft said. "Now it seems like there's a dozen teams I'm going to next summer. At this point, you laugh at it and see how the summer plays out."


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