Leafs lose out on Nedved

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:02 AM ET

The aging Petr Nedved wouldn't have changed the balance of power in the Battle of Ontario.

But his pursuit by both the Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators underlines how serious the clubs are to gain any edge.

Nedved wound up being claimed on waivers by the Edmonton Oilers yesterday, but the Sens had also put in one for the Philadelphia Flyers forward. The Leafs have had interest since earlier this season when Mats Sundin was hurt, but a source denied last night they were the mystery third team that put in a claim.

Toronto wouldn't have wanted the Sens to have any edge (Ottawa is two points ahead), but as for getting Nedved just to spite the Sens, Leafs general manager John Ferguson refused any comment on Nedved last night.

The bottom line is that the 35-year-old was picked up by the Oilers. Claims are accepted in order of clubs who've tallied the lowest percentage of points available to them. That put the Leafs slightly in front of the Sens, but the 38-point Oilers ahead of both.

Not that the Leafs couldn't use a few goals with all their injuries, but Nedved was down to seven last year with the Flyers and Phoenix Coyotes and had one goal and six assists before last-place Philly demoted him to the American Hockey League Phantoms last month.

With their own injuries to Jason Spezza, Mike Fisher and Antoine Vermette, the Sens did covet Nedved. He's an unrestricted free agent next summer and though he's listed at $2.4 million US this year, the Flyers are paying half his salary.

"(Nedved) is very motivated to help somebody," agent J.P. Barry told Sun Media earlier this week. "When he was given offensive duties with the Flyers, he excelled. He's a low-risk, high-reward option."

Adding Nedved would have continued Toronto's apparent fascination with the 1990 draft. The Leafs already have traded for and dropped that year's No. 1 Owen Nolan, Nedved was picked second, the Leafs selected Drake Berehowsky 10th and twice employed him, while at one time they acquired Trevor Kidd (11) and Mark Greig (15).

While they continue sparring with the Sens, the Leafs are now locking horns with the Boston Bruins in a heated rivalry that developed during the past two months. After tomorrow's match in Boston only one match remains in the eight-game series, while starting Saturday the Leafs switch their attention to the Buffalo Sabres, meeting them six times up to March 23.

"All these division games we have to treat like playoff games," Toronto forward Wade Belak said. "These points are important now that we're halfway through the season. We have to start stringing them together and climbing in the standings."


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