Two more for Toskala

Goalie Vesa Toskala smiles at the Air Canada Centre after signing a two-year contract extension...

Goalie Vesa Toskala smiles at the Air Canada Centre after signing a two-year contract extension with the Maple Leafs on Wednesday. (Sun Media/Alex Urosevic)

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:41 AM ET

Surrounded by a sea of microphones and cameras, Vesa Toskala was forced to squint from the onslaught of television lights blazing directly into his eyes.

Welcome to the so-called Centre of the Hockey Universe, Mr. Toskala.

Introduced to the Toronto media for the first time since being acquired along with forward Mark Bell for a first-, second- and fourth-round draft pick two weeks ago, Toskala quickly realized he was no longer in San Jose when he was met by the large gaggle of reporters yesterday.

Asked if he had ever seen so many members of the media during his days with the Sharks, he laughed.

"We only had two of them around out there," he said.

"But I think I can handle the attention here. It will be different but I'm just going to have fun with it."

Wearing casual sandals and armed with a new two-year, $8-million US extension, Toskala, 30, is happy to be a Leaf through 2010 and will spend the remainder of the week looking for a place to live, preferably where he can undertake one of his passions -- shopping.

Given the fact the Leafs handed Toskala a new deal, the rumours concerning a potential trade involving Andrew Raycroft immediately ballooned. The ink barely was dry on Toskala's deal when one talk-show caller suggested a Raycroft-for-Kris Draper swap with the Detroit Red Wings might be in the works.

The Wings are having difficulties re-signing Dominik Hasek and might be in the market for goaltending help.

Teams began calling general manager John Ferguson about Raycroft almost immediately after the Toskala trade was completed. The Leafs will continue to kick tires on that front, but insist there is no urgency to make a move unless the offer is right.

TWO TO LEAN ON

"We said at the end of the season we wanted to bolster our goaltending and we did that," Ferguson said. "Now we have two guys our coaches can lean on."

Cynics are not buying the argument, insisting Toskala's extension means Raycroft is living on borrowed time.

"I don't see it that way," coach Paul Maurice said. "We still have confidence in Andrew's ability. This had more to do with the fact that Vesa was available.

"I think Andrew is excited about this. I think he knew he needed the support."

Assuming both goaltenders remain with the Leafs, Toskala and Raycroft combine to chew up an economical $3.375 million of cap space in the upcoming season. That figure will jump to about $6 million in 2008-09 when Toskala makes $4 million and Raycroft $2 million.


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