Cliff Fletcher had some heartening news yesterday for Pavel Kubina, whose Maple Leafs career appeared in doubt at times last season.
Though he's in the midst of a two-month window to deal Kubina outside his no-trade contract, Fletcher indicated the Czech defenceman, whom new coach Ron Wilson likes, is safe unless the GM is offered "a wow player."
"Even before Ron got here, I thought he'd had a good second half and was arguably our best player," Fletcher said. "We value him highly. But he's no different in that respect than any other player who could be traded. If we're offered a wow player, naturally we'd move him."
Fletcher yesterday repeated comments that he would not pay the millions required to buy out defenceman Bryan McCabe. And with the latter holding a no-trade hammer, it looks like Kubina, McCabe, Tomas Kaberle, Ian White, Carlo Colaiacovo and Anton Stralman will be the nucleus of the defence, with No. 1 pick Luke Schenn getting a chance to move in at camp.
NO CONTACT WITH CUJO
One rumour yesterday had Toronto lining up ex-Leaf Curtis Joseph for a backup role here, now that Andrew Raycroft's status is in doubt, Scott Clemmensen is gone and Justin Pogge will be the full-time Marlies goalie.
"A nice idea, but I've had no talks with the Leafs," Joseph's agent, Don Meehan said.
Fletcher refused comment while Joseph still is under contract to Calgary, as well regarding speculation that soon-to-be ex-Penguin Gary Roberts might talk to the Leafs about filling their veteran leadership void.