Trade will please vacationing goalie

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 12:36 PM ET

VANCOUVER -- Andrew Raycroft is going to have a new address when he returns from his European vacation.

After failing in attempts to get Evgeni Nabokov from San Jose, Roberto Luongo from Florida and J.S. Giguere from Anaheim, the Leafs picked up Raycroft from the Bruins in exchange for prospect Tuukka Rask during yesterday's entry draft at GM Place.

"Before he left on the vacation, we had a discussion about the various places he could go and he hoped I would greet him at the airport with a Maple Leafs jersey when he gets back (tomorrow)," his agent Jordan Naumann said last night.

"All he wants is a chance for a fresh start and he feels like Toronto is a really good organization. This is a guy who can be a top goalie in the league and this is the opportunity that he wants. Once we can get a hold of him and give him the news, I know he's going to be really excited about it."

NEED QUALIFYING OFFER

Raycroft, who needs to receive a $1.35-million (all terms US) qualifying offer from the Leafs by tomorrow, had fallen out of favour with the Bruins after struggling last season.

A rookie of the year in 2004, Raycroft will be a nice fit with the Leafs. It also means the Ed Belfour era will end this week when Leafs GM John Ferguson Jr. exercises the $1.5-million buyout on the 41-year-old netminder's contract.

"We looked at options and this guy is a proven No. 1. He's 26 years old and we feel like his best years may be ahead of him," said Ferguson Jr. "We feel like he's really going to help us at that position and we needed a No. 1 goalie. He's a nice fit.

"We had to make something happen. If you're going to get a goalie like Andrew Raycroft, then you've got to be willing to give up something in return. We had to pay a big price, but we felt like this was worth it. He's going to look great in our uniform."

ASKING PRICE TOO HIGH

There were other options available, but the Leafs didn't want to pay the huge asking price for guys like Luongo, Giguere and Nabokov.

The Raycroft deal may allow the Leafs to make a pitch for Zdeno Chara should the latter become a free agent July 1, or possibly acquire Oilers defenceman Chris Pronger.

"There's no question that if you're not paying somebody ($3.8 million or $5.3 million) then you've got the chance to spend money in other areas. This might allow you to do some other things," said Ferguson Jr., who was smiling after spending the day on the phone.

"We looked at a number of different scenarios. We talked about doing something with the No. 1 pick. We looked at different prospects. This seemed to be the one that made the most sense for us and I'm pleased that we were able to get something done."


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