Salary crunch forced JFJ to say no to Vokoun

BRUCE GARRIOCH

, Last Updated: 7:04 AM ET

COLUMBUS -- Tomas Vokoun nearly landed in Toronto before winding up in the Sunshine State with the Panthers.

League sources say Leafs GM John Ferguson Jr. wanted to make a deal with the Predators before the entry draft, but couldn't fit Vokoun under the salary cap.

Vokoun, 31, is set to make an average of $5.7 million US over the next four years. With the Predators' future in doubt and the club looking to dump salary, Nashville accepted a package of draft picks in exchange for their star goalie.

Instead of acquiring Vokoun, a proven No. 1 netminder, the Leafs acquired the more affordable Vesa Toskala from the San Jose Sharks.

"We're pleased and we feel like we're going to have a good situation next year with Andrew (Raycroft) and (Toskala)," Ferguson said.

OFF THE GLASS

Had RW Gary Roberts not signed with the Penguins, there could have been a Battle of Ontario for his rights on July 1. It's believed both the Leafs and Senators would have made a pitch for the 41-year-old Roberts, who accepted a one-year, $2.5-million deal to stay with Sidney Crosby ... There's a lot of talk Anaheim could bring in LW Ryan Smyth next season. He will be an unrestricted free agent and GM Brian Burke could have the money to spend if Teemu Selanne retires ... The Canucks tried to trade up to get the No. 2 pick, but weren't willing to give in to Philly GM Paul Holmgren's demands. It's believed he was seeking C Ryan Kesler, prospect G Corey Schneider and the Canucks' first-round selection ... The Blues are looking for a goalie. Not only are they talking to the Senators about Martin Gerber, they've also held discussions with Anaheim concerning Ilja Bryzgalov.

AROUND THE BOARDS

Trying to make sure Miikka Kiprusoff doesn't get to unrestricted free agency on July 1, 2008, Flames GM Darryl Sutter has opened contract talks. But agent Larry Kelly noted there's no urgency ... The Caps are likely going to try to bring in free-agent C Mike Comrie to play with LW Alexander Ovechkin. GM George McPhee plans to spend money this summer.

Comrie finished the season with the Senators ... The Bruins are trying to

get a deal done for Minny G Manny Fernandez, but the word is Wild GM Doug Risebrough is difficult to deal with and that's why the trade has not been completed ... Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli also is trying to unload RW Glen Murray and his $4.5-million salary next season. The Bruins would like to get the Sharks to take Murray and reunite him with Joe Thornton in exchange for Patrick Marleau ... The Senators are going to try to move LW Oleg Saprykin, who received a qualifying offer from former GM John Muckler. Saprykin's agent, Brian Lawton, met with new GM Bryan Murray Thursday and agreed the forward should be moved. "We know that Ottawa isn't a good situation for him and there's going to be interest elsewhere," said Lawton.

SLAPSHOTS

The Oilers are trying to land Philly D Joni Pitkanen. The Flyers aren't asking for much because they don't want to pick up any more salary ... Edmonton has also been trying to acquire the negotiating rights to New Jersey C Scott Gomez. The talk is the Oilers would then flip those rights to the Flyers because there's not a chance Gomez is going to Edmonton. Gomez is expected to be among the most sought after free agents when the free-agent door kicks open on July 1. It has been speculated that his intention is to remain in the New York area. Phoenix also presents an interesting possibility for the slick-skating forward.


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