$6M worth of comfort

New Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Andrew Raycroft signed a three-year contract on Tuesday. (Toronto...

New Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Andrew Raycroft signed a three-year contract on Tuesday. (Toronto Sun File/David Lucas)

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:30 AM ET

While they have been kicking tires regarding more player moves, the Maple Leafs have pumped up goaltender Andrew Raycroft.

Acquired from the Boston Bruins on June 24, the Belleville native yesterday signed a three-year contract that will pay him an average of $2 million US a season. A restricted free agent, Raycroft made $1.35 million last season.

"I'm excited and it is nice to get it done and out of the way," Raycroft said.

"(Signing for three years) gives me a comfort level going into camp, but I know this doesn't really mean anything until the games begin. But knowing you are wanted for the next few years gives you confidence."

Raycroft, 26, will be paid $1.8 million in 2006-07, $2 million in 2007-08 and $2.2 million in 2008-09.

The Leafs sent unproven but heralded goaltending prospect Tuukka Rask to the Bruins to get Raycroft, who struggled after winning the Calder Trophy in 2003-04 as the NHL's top freshman.

DROPPED ON DEPTH CHART

Raycroft, hampered by injuries, was 8-19-2 in 30 games and fell behind Tim Thomas and Hannu Toivonen on the Bruins depth chart.

"He's getting the opportunity to come in and be in the go-to guy, and we have the opportunity to have that guy in place for three years," Leafs general manager John Ferguson said.

The Leafs have Raycroft, Jean-Sebastien Aubin and Mikael Tellqvist in the NHL mix for next season. Though it would not be surprising if Aubin or Tellqvist was traded, Ferguson said he would not have a problem if coach Paul Maurice started 2006-07 with all three on the Leafs roster.

"You've seen it happen in San Jose, Buffalo, Columbus, many different places," Ferguson said. "We're really comfortable with our depth there right now. That being said, if have an opportunity to improve ourselves (by dealing Aubin or Tellqvist), we would look at it."

Toronto remains interested in the thought of acquiring Gary Roberts from the Florida Panthers, sources said, but the club does not anticipate signing free agent Anson Carter.

The Leafs, though happy with the signings of defencemen Pavel Kubina and Hal Gill on Saturday, had their fingers in the Zdeno Chara pie. Chara, who signed a five-year, $37.5-million pact with the Bruins, told Sun Media yesterday the Leafs were one of seven teams (along with San Jose, Los Angeles, Edmonton, Washington, the New York Rangers and New Jersey)that offered more than $7 million a season before he took Boston's offer.

And while there has been concern in Toronto over the speed, or lack thereof, with the 6-foot-7, 250-pound Gill, Raycroft is not concerned. The latter is looking forward to remaining Gill's teammate after they played together for the Bruins.

"He is quicker than everyone thinks," said Raycroft, who plans to vacate Boston early next week.

"You don't think that a guy who is 6-foot-7 can get around, but he does. He's a solid D-man who kills penalties and does well in those situations."


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