Kilger signs three-year deal

LANCE HORNBY ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:33 AM ET

Another of John Ferguson's reclamation projects has found a permanent home in Toronto.

Winger Chad Kilger, claimed from the Montreal Canadiens on waivers in March 2004 and a pleasant surprise with a career-best 17 goals, signed a three-year deal with the Leafs yesterday.

Kilger, who passed through five National Hockey League teams trying to live up to potential as the fourth pick overall in 1995, got some security ahead of base salary. He'll make $1.2 million US next year, going to $800,000 and $700,000 through 2008-09.

Beginning with an assist in New Jersey on New Year's Eve, he had 14 points in 22 games at a time when many Leafs began tailing off. He scored his 17th goal Saturday against Ottawa, having already surpassed his best mark of 14 with the 1998-99 Chicago Blackhawks.

Last week, general manager Ferguson signed goaltender Jean-Sebastien Aubin to a one-year, one-way $525,000 deal after he had been hanging with the Marlies on a two-way pact at $500,000.

EAGLE WILL FLY AGAIN: QUINN

Injured Ed Belfour may have been the forgotten man in the Leafs' failed late push for a playoff spot. But coach Pat Quinn doesn't think that means the veteran goaltender should be gone for next season.

"He's facing a lot of recovery with his injury," Quinn said of Belfour. "I'm pretty sure if his recovery is a good one, in my opinion, he could show the form we have all come to know from him. Ed is one of the best (goalies) we've ever had here."

Belfour, who turns 41 on Friday, recently underwent a second back operation in as many years to repair a herniated disc.

LOOSE LEAFS

Despite a good deal of speculation in Sweden and North America that Alex Steen will be added to the Swedes' world championship roster, the young Leafs winger said yesterday he has not yet been invited ... Nik Antropov was absent from practice yesterday nursing a leg injury. If he can't play against the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight, the Leafs will have to call up John Pohl or another forward from the Marlies ... Mats Sundin was a runner-up for the NHL offensive player of the week award, which was shared by San Jose Sharks teammates Joe Thornton and Jonathan Cheechoo.


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