Belak eager for reunion

Wade Belak would welcome the addition of Bryan McCabe to the Panthers. (Sun Media/Veronica Henri)

Wade Belak would welcome the addition of Bryan McCabe to the Panthers. (Sun Media/Veronica Henri)

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:22 AM ET

Why stop at Bryan McCabe?

Why not bring a few more Maple Leafs down to the Sunshine State with him, Wade Belak asked last night?

"Caber would be a great addition to our team," Belak said from the Miami area last night, hoping that reports concerning McCabe's imminent trade to the Florida Panthers are accurate.

"He's a great leader and a real warrior. We have a great goalie and a great defence that would be even better with him.

"Now we have to work on Mats. Let's get the entire band back together, man! I'm all for that."

SORRY, WADE

Memo to Belak: Mats Sundin is not going to sign with the Panthers. And, given the fact that the big Swede is leaning toward retirement, he may not be lacing up the blades for any other National Hockey League team this season either.

On the other hand, it appears more and more likely that McCabe will be joining Belak with the Panthers next month as part of a deal that reportedly would see defenceman Mike Van Ryn, 29, come to Toronto.

According to Sportsnet, the Leafs and Panthers already have the framework of such a trade in place. As reported by Sun Media yesterday, no deal will be made before Sept. 1, at which time McCabe is scheduled to receive a $2 million US signing bonus from the Leafs.

Van Ryn, who had two assists in 20 games last season, has $6.7 million remaining on a two-year deal.

Keep in mind that Joe Nieuwendyk, who joined the Leafs front office last month, is quite familiar with the Florida personnel, having been a member of the Panthers brass last season.

This would not be the first time the Leafs have eyed Van Ryn. They were one of six teams that pursued the young free agent defenceman in 2000 only to see him sign a three-year, $1.025 million pact with the St. Louis Blues.

Van Ryn, a native of London, Ont., has 27 goals and 91 assists for 118 points in 326 career NHL games.


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