Tucker trade not likely

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:08 AM ET

Darcy Tucker need not necessarily pack his bags if he fails to reach a multi-year contract agreement with the Maple Leafs by the Feb. 27 trade deadline.

Leafs general manager John Ferguson was quick to make that point yesterday, attempting to squash rumours that Tucker definitely would be traded if a deal was not completed by that time.

"That date, for where we are as a club, in the context of these particular negotiations, is not as relevant as some," Ferguson said.

Talks have heated up in recent days.

The Leafs and Carlos Sosa, Tucker's agent, exchanged proposals this week with Ferguson making the initial offer and Sosa countering it. The two sides talked yesterday and likely will continue to do so in the coming days.

Tucker, who is making $1.596 million US this season, is said to be looking for at least a multi-year pact -- ideally for four-plus years -- that would more than double his salary annually.

For his part, Sosa does not understand why the Leafs would ever consider dealing Tucker away as long as a post-season berth is in their sights.

"He's an asset," Sosa said of Tucker. "If you are trying to make the playoffs, you don't trade him.

"Having said that, anything's possible."

While Sosa would like to seal a deal as soon as possible, he and Ferguson do not have a gun to their heads to get something done immediately.

"The only deadline for a deal is July 1," Sosa said, referring to the date that Tucker is eligible to become a free agent. "Other than that, it's in the pocket of the Leafs at a time and place of their choosing."

With the trade deadline less than two weeks away, there is no shortage of scuttlebutt making the rounds.

It is no secret that former Leaf Gary Roberts would find a return to Toronto quite intriguing. But in order for the Florida Panther to waive his no-trade clause, he likely would be looking to sign a contract extension for next year.

The Ottawa Senators, Toronto's provincial rivals, are said to be very hot to trot for Roberts.

The Leafs had talked to the Phoenix Coyotes about Ladislav Nagy but never got to the point of discussing a first-round pick.


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