Fergy's ready to start the dance

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:24 AM ET

John Ferguson continues a curious long-distance dance with two potential impact players on the Maple Leafs -- unrestricted free agents Alex Mogilny and Brian Leetch.

They've been obscured by the daily saga of whether Tie Domi, Gary Roberts and Joe Nieuwendyk will be back. Mogilny's agent, J.P. Barry, has given the media glowing reports of the winger's recovery from hip surgery, saying he skates daily in Khabarovsk, Russia, his remote home near the Sea of Japan.

"He hopes to return to the NHL," Barry said last week, without mentioning when and with whom.

But Ferguson, already in a multi-million dollar dispute with Barry about Owen Nolan's knee problems, directed the question on Mogilny's return back to the agent.

Leetch also will be available to the highest bidding National Hockey League team at noon today. Though he wants to play for a team near his Connecticut home after a surprise trade to the Leafs in 2004, he is upset with New York Rangers manager Glen Sather and might not fit with the plans of the New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils or Philadelphia Flyers.

That has led to recent communication with Ferguson. The latter is looking for younger, cheaper defencemen than the 37-year-old Leetch, but there might be a match later this summer if there's still cap room here and neither man has got his desired result.

Discussions also are continuing on a new contract with 2002 first-rounder Alexander Steen. Toronto remains in contact with Alexei Ponikarovsky, a restricted Group 2 free agent who didn't have to be qualified.

MEDICAL MOVES

The Leafs have hired former Ottawa Senators' athletic therapist Kevin Wagner, who left the NHL team a few years ago for a private practice in Edmonton.

Chris Broadhurst, one of two therapists let go in Ferguson's purge of doctors and trainers a few weeks ago, has joined the Phoenix Coyotes.

ROOKIE TOURNAMENT

The Leafs rookies will travel to Ottawa in September for a five-team tournament being run by the Senators. Also scheduled to attend are the Montreal Canadiens, Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes.


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