Leafs, agents get talkin'

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 12:48 PM ET

The reshaping of the Maple Leafs began in earnest yesterday.

Less than 24 hours after the National Hockey League's board of governors ratified the new collective bargaining agreement, Leafs' general manager John Ferguson held conversations with the representatives for Owen Nolan, Joe Nieuwendyk and Gary Roberts.

Nolan's agent, J.P. Barry, met with Ferguson yesterday afternoon in an attempt to work out the status of the injured forward, who is scheduled to undergo knee surgery on Tuesday.

The Leafs would like to buy out Nolan in order to clear space under the $39- million US salary cap. Barry, however, questions the medical treatment his client received from the Leafs and the legitimacy of the buyout.

While the NHL players association is closely monitoring the dispute, league vice president Bill Daly feels, on the surface, that the Leafs should be able to proceed with their plans, although this is far from being a black-and-white issue.

"Nolan was deemed by the Maple Leafs as 'fit to play' during the lockout," Daly said via e-mail.

"As such, he can be bought out. As a general matter, you can't buy out an injured player. This is all on background."

Nieuwendyk and Roberts would like to return to Toronto, but likely will have to accept pay cuts in order for that to happen.

"I had the opportunity to talk to John," Rick Curran, the agent for Roberts and Nieuwendyk, said yesterday, refusing to elaborate on the talks.

Other Leafs who are possibilities to have their contracts bought out include veteran defencemen Tomas Kaberle, Ken Klee and Bryan McCabe, the team's player rep.

"Personally, I don't think Bryan is a candidate," said Jeff Solomon, McCabe's agent. "Having said that, they have to buy out somebody."


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