One down, one to go.
With the Maple Leafs announcing yesterday that defenceman Tomas Kaberle has been signed to a new five-year deal, the spotlight now shifts to pending unrestricted free agent Bryan McCabe.
If Kaberle has any say in the matter, it will be just a matter of time before McCabe is locked up to a long-term pact, as well.
Slated to earn $4.25 million US per season under terms of the new contract, Kaberle is lobbying for the organization to retain McCabe's services.
"I hope they can do it," said Kaberle, whose deal includes a no-trade clause. "I think Bryan and I feed off each other. He is one of our leaders, on the ice and off. "
The Leafs were 1-7-1 with McCabe out of the lineup with a groin injury last month, a stat that his handlers almost assuredly will bring up during negotiations.
"We have had preliminary talks with the Leafs and agreed to resume them at a later date," McCabe's agent, Jeff Solomon, said last night. "That in itself shows the team has interest."
The McCabe camp insists Kaberle's deal will not play a role in discussions with the Leafs. McCabe is earning $3.458 million this season.
For his part, general manager John Ferguson would like to get the McCabe situation handled by the end of the season.
"They both continue to demonstrate their worth to this club on and off the ice and we've got a plan in place that includes them both," he said. "Without getting into any specifics on any particular negotiations, Bryan continues to demonstrate his contribution to our club."
McCabe received a huge ovation last night when the scoreboard at the Air Canada Centre acknowledged his presence on Team Canada, which heads to Turin tomorrow night.
"I love it here," McCabe said. "I've had success here. The (contract) will take care of itself."
Kaberle, meanwhile, could have demanded a hefty price on the free-agent market.
"I had plenty of options but option No. 1 was always Toronto," said Kaberle, who is making $2.28 million this season. "I want to be here, my family wants to be here. I was looking for a four or five-year deal and it worked out."