Leafs lock up Matt, not Mats

LANCE HORNBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

The Maple Leafs have locked up a centre with the initials M.S., though he's not 6-foot-5 nor Swedish.

But as expected, restricted free agent Matt Stajan has returned to the club, signing a two-year deal worth $3.5 million US.

It's a near saw-off between the $1.6 million annual salary the Leafs initially offered him and the $2 million Stajan sought after a career high 16 goals and 33 points in 82 games on a $950,000 ticket.

He did not file for salary arbitration last weekend.

HARD WORKER

"It's good to have this done and get a chance to show what I can do (for new coach Ron Wilson) in September," Stajan said yesterday. "It was tough to see so many friends let go the past few days (such as Kyle Wellwood, Darcy Tucker and Andrew Raycroft), but it's a new start for our team."

The Mississaugan was a tireless worker on a sub-par team and became a stand-up player in the dressing room many nights when veterans refused to meet their media obligations.

Pending Sundin's decision to return to the National Hockey League or retire, Stajan will be in a battle for the No. 2-3 centre role with Dominic Moore and Mikhail Grabovski. General manager Cliff Fletcher said he'd heard nothing new the past few days regarding Sundin's status.


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