McCabe will sign deal

Bryan McCabe has decided his NHL future is in Toronto, after all. (Toronto Sun File/Fred Thornhill)

Bryan McCabe has decided his NHL future is in Toronto, after all. (Toronto Sun File/Fred Thornhill)

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:28 AM ET

The Bryan McCabe saga appears to be over.

Maple Leafs sources confirmed last night that McCabe will sign his highly publicized five-year contract -- worth about $28.75 million US -- as early as today.

McCabe initially agreed to terms of the deal back on May 31 but was delayed in putting pen to paper because of family issues.

Rampant speculation over the past month suggested that McCabe's wife Roberta did not want to come back to Toronto because her family is based in the New York area.

The New York Islanders, for one, were believed to be among the teams interested in acquiring McCabe's services in the event he became an unrestricted free agent this Saturday.

But sources insist the reasons for the delay ran much deeper than a wife's love of the Big Apple. It is believed that a family illness was at the root of this month-long soap opera, which finally seems to be coming to a conclusion.

"If there is something to announce, we will do it at the appropriate time," Leafs general manager John Ferguson said last night, refusing to elaborate on the situation.

Earlier in the day, Ferguson did reveal he has been in frequent contact with McCabe, who earned $3.458 million last season.

"I have spoken to Bryan more times than most know and have reason to know," Ferguson said. "Communication has been consistently positive."

One of the more interesting aspects of the contract is said to be a non-movement clause, meaning the Leafs can not trade him or place him on waivers for the duration of the pact, which runs through the 2010-11 season.

The clause would prevent the Leafs from sending McCabe to the farm, if need be, to clear cap space.

With the McCabe stalement now behind him, Ferguson still has a lot of work on his plate in the coming days.

First off, there is the situation involving veterans Tie Domi and Ed Belfour who, barring a last minute change of heart, will be cast adrift by Toronto in the next two days.

Meanwhile, there are the ongoing talks between the Leafs and Edmonton Oilers involving defenceman Chris Pronger, who has asked to be dealt out of Edmonton.

The Leafs initially were said to have offered McCabe's defence partner, Tomas Kaberle, and youngster Matt Stajan in exchange for Pronger.

According to various reports, the Oilers refused, requesting that Alex Steen replace Stajan as part of the deal. The Leafs, however, are reluctant to part with Steen.

Now there are rumours surfacing in Alberta the Oilers want Darcy Tucker included in the deal. Forward Raffi Torres, a former member of the Brampton Battalion of the Ontario Hockey League, has been mentioned as a candidate to come to Toronto.

At least Ferguson does not have to fret about McCabe any more.


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