June 30, 2006
McKee, Arnott on Leafs' radar
By MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun
AURORA -- You won't necessarily have to go to the Rogers Centre in order to see the Jays play later this year.
There may be a pair of Jays -- defenceman Jay McKee and forward Jason Arnott -- strutting their stuff at the Air Canada Centre in 2006-07.
While it is premature to start measuring these players for Maple Leafs sweaters, it is known Toronto has interest in both of the pending unrestricted free agents. Don't be surprised if the Leafs contact their representatives when the market opens at noon tomorrow.
Arnott, 31, informed the Dallas Stars this week he intends to test the free-agent waters. The Wasaga Beach native, who earned about $2.9 million US last year, established career highs with 76 points and 44 assists and is considered by some NHL executives to be the best all-around centre available in this year's crop of free agents.
Sources indicate Arnott would be "intrigued" at landing with the Leafs.
Nashville and Montreal are among the other teams said to be interested.
McKee also will head for free agency after turning down a multi-year offer from the Buffalo Sabres believed to be worth just slightly more than $2 million per season.
"I'm very disappointed with Buffalo," McKee, 28, said in a phone interview.
"I understand they might want to stay within a budget, but you also want to feel appreciated for all the years of service you put in there."
McKee, a Kingston native, has a soft spot for the Leafs.
"When you grow up cheering for a team like I did with the Leafs, you understand they had a lot to do with you reaching the NHL," said McKee, believed to be seeking a multi-year deal worth between $3 million and $4 million.