Not budging on McCabe

Leafs defenceman Bryan McCabe is slated to make $6.15 million this season, which GM Cliff Fletcher...

Leafs defenceman Bryan McCabe is slated to make $6.15 million this season, which GM Cliff Fletcher has judged too cumbersome to carry. SUN MEDIA/Dave Abel

LANCE HORNBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:16 AM ET

Cliff Fletcher says if Mats Sundin doesn't return to the Leafs it won't mean the salary cap savings will accommodate exiled defenceman Bryan McCabe.

And even with McCabe on the books, it's possible the Leafs will go into this season without being under a cap squeeze for the first time since the NHL adopted the salary system in 2005.

Sundin would cost the Leafs in the $7-million-to-$8-million US range for this season, about all the club has remaining under the current $56.7-million cap.

McCabe, meanwhile, is slated to make $6.15 million this season, which Fletcher has judged too cumbersome to carry, either this year or factored into a buyout of the remaining two seasons, both at $4.15 million, creating a standoff with the one-time all-star.

"The two salaries (Sundin and McCabe's) are not connected," Fletcher said, though he remains hopeful of reaching a trade or some kind of settlement with McCabe by October.

Sundin's agent, J.P, Barry, has given a soft deadline of this Friday for his client to decide between playing for the Leafs, the Vancouver Canucks, another team or to retire.

"We brought in a young centre in Mikhail Grabovski and a young left winger in Nicklas Hagman under the impression Mats wasn't coming back," Fletcher said. "If he comes back, we'll be elated, if he doesn't, it will give us cap flexibility we haven't had. We're cognizant of the cap, but we will improve the team if an opportunity presents itself."

Fletcher confirmed that the first of Hagman's four-year, $12-million deal contains a no-trade clause, something the GM granted despite his difficulty with trying to move McCabe, Darcy Tucker and Pavel Kubina in the past.

"Nicklas didn't want to be coming here and be worried about moving again in two months," Fletcher said. "I was comfortable giving it to him for just a year."


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