Panthers land Eagle

Former Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Ed Belfour signed with the Florida Panthers on Tuesday. (Toronto...

Former Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Ed Belfour signed with the Florida Panthers on Tuesday. (Toronto Sun File/Greg Henkenhaf)

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:26 AM ET

UNIONVILLE -- The Eagle finally has landed in Florida.

After more than a week of speculation, the Panthers yesterday announced the signing of the former Maple Leafs goaltender to a one-year incentive-laden deal believed to be worth about $750,000 US.

Belfour, 41, likely will back up Alex Auld, who was acquired in the deal that sent Roberto Luongo to the Vancouver Canucks last month.

"Ed's wealth of playing experience will be an added asset for our organization," said Panthers general manager Mike Keenan, who coached Belfour with the Chicago Blackhawks.

As Leaf fans are well aware, all eyes will be on Belfour's brittle back. But Belfour did pass a physical in Florida, where he'll be reunited with former Leafs teammates Gary Roberts and Joe Nieuwendyk.

WELCOME MATT

Restricted free agent Matt Stajan is hoping to come to terms on a multi-year deal with the Leafs, but says he will not be dismayed if the two sides can only agree on a one-year pact.

"Either way I'm optimistic something can be resolved by the end of the week," Stajan, 22, said yesterday.

Stajan, a natural centre, flourished in the final stages of the 2005-06 season when he was inserted between Jeff O'Neill and Alexander Steen.

But a glut at centre could see Stajan back on the wing, a move the young forward said he would easily accept.

"Any decision on where Matt plays will be made off his performance in training camp and where he best helps the team," general manager John Ferguson said yesterday.

Stajan has been working hard with Leafs strength and conditioning guru Matt Nichol and has bulked up to 210 pounds, about 10 more than where he would like to be when the season opens.

LOOSE LEAFS

O'Neill has healed quickly from his spring shoulder surgery, so much so he already has resumed skating and shooting pucks ... Greg Gilbert's name continues to be rumoured as the potential next coach of the Marlies. "It'll likely be an ex-player," a source said yesterday ... Ex-Leaf coach Pat Quinn is prepared to take a year off but admits being antsy. "This is the time of year you usually are checking out the status of your players, who has been signed, those sorts of preparations," Quinn said yesterday.


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