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MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:01 AM ET

COLUMBUS -- The moment goalie Vesa Toskala was acquired by the Maple Leafs yesterday, coach Paul Maurice could already predict the most common question being asked back in Toronto.

"Who's No. 1, Toskala or Andrew Raycroft?"Maurice chuckled. "I'm sure we'll be hearing a lot of that.

"Let's face it -- it's going to be a circus. I know that. I'm not going to deal with it in the media, but I will deal with it with both of them behind closed doors.

"Listen, we just made the lives of about 15 talk show hosts back in Toronto much easier by giving them more fodder to chat about."

If you are expecting Maurice to announce a starter, well, don't. That's not the way the Leafs second-year bench boss plans to work things out.

"There will be times we'll go with the hot hand, there will be times we will alternate so that each of them gets a breather," he said. "The most important thing is, we came in looking to improve our goaltending tandem and we certainly did that."

After looking into the possibility of prying Tomas Vokoun out of Nashville, general manager John Ferguson pulled the trigger on a blockbuster that saw the Leafs acquire Toskala and forward Mark Bell from the San Jose Sharks for Toronto's first and second-round picks in 2007 and a fourth rounder in 2009.

Toskala, 30, was 26-10-1 with a 2.35 goals against average and a .908 save percentage with the Sharks last season. He is in the final year of a deal that will pay him $1.375 million, although the Leafs already are in talks with his agent, DonBaizley, about an extension.

"We'll continue talking," Baizley said last night. "I'm not concerned though, because Vesa is really looking forward to this new challenge."

Toskala was quite excited when he received news of the trade in his native Finland.

"I was prepared for something to happen," he said. "I had thought Toronto was one of the places I might end up, so it wasn't a shock. It's a big change, though, coming from California to Toronto.It's huge."

Having said that, he wasn't prepared to annoint himself the starter.

"Raycroft is good. It'll be a good competition. I hope to get more ice time than last year but you never know."

Bell, meanwhile, hopes to get back on track after recording a career-low 21 points with the Sharks. Acquired last summer to be Joe Thornton's winger, he never seemed to get on track.

"He had a lot of injuries,"Thornton said."I think he will rebound nicely."

Bell, a native of St. Paul's, Ont., is under contract for two more years for a total of $4.5 million US.

"I'm very excited because I used to watch the Leafs every Saturday night," he said. "And I feel my game is really rounding into shape."

The Leafs payroll is now in the neighbourhood of $44.5 million so look for Ferguson to deal a defenceman in order to free up cap room for another forward.


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