Leafs GM weighs in on Penner

John Ferguson Jr., vice-president and general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs talks to media...

John Ferguson Jr., vice-president and general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs talks to media Thursday August 2nd, 2007. (Sun Media Dave Abel)

BLAIR MCCARRON - SLAM! Sports

, Last Updated: 11:47 AM ET

John Ferguson Jr. kept a close eye on the drama that happened out West last week.

The Maple Leafsí GM took a strong stance on the tactics used by the Oilers to land restricted free agent Dustin Penner from the Anaheim Ducks, nixing the notion that tendering offering sheets is still regarded as taboo.

"Itís a function of the collective bargaining agreement, itís in there."

When asked if he would use the same strategy, Ferguson smiled, "Sure, absolutely. We certainly would never limit ourselves from utilizing an aspect of the CBA to improve our club.

"I donít think itís a surprise to anyone. We saw it occur before the CBA, we saw it occur a year ago with Ryan Kessler."

Was the US$21.25M, five-year offer sheet too much for the power forward from Winkler Manitoba?

"I would love to tell you what I think of Dustin Penner as a player, but I canít comment on him. Heís a Stanley Cup winner. Heís a young guy with size who can finish, but itís hard to assess the player without also assessing the contract and the cap space of the club making the decision."

Ferguson paused for a moment before continuing, "We can all debate what number is appropriate for a certain player. Clearly there is a lot of subjectivity in that, and Iím never in the business of telling anyone else how to run their club."

The idea that Kevin Lowe is single handedly inflating salaries in the league did not wash with Ferguson either saying, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."

"Weíve all got a limited space under the cap. We donít know where the cap is going to be next year. So the amount for that player makes sense for the team. Kevin Lowe demonstrated his thoughts for Penner so it really doesnít matter what 29 other GMís think of the deal."

Ferguson said he would be prepared to handle an offer sheet from another team and was surprised he didnít receive any interest for his roster of young players.

After all the moves that were made this summer, Ferguson believes tendered offer sheets are a trend that will appear more in the future.

"The one unique element of the NHL is that it is the only pro sport that has a cap, and has arbitration. You have to make decisions; weíre just trying to win. Or letís face it; make it hard for others to fit under the cap. "

With training camp a little over a month away Ferguson says his team can compete this season.

"We like the decisions weíve made this summer. They hold up very well, and have been compared across the league in restricted free-agency, and un-restricted free agency, but more importantly they make sense for us."

Leaf notes: John Ferguson Jr. said there was nothing new to report in the ongoing negotiations with veteran centre Mike Peca, except that he owed Pecaís agent a phone call. He also admitted there was no truth to the rumours surrounding the interest expressed from other teams regarding Leafs centre Matt Stajan.


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