Leafs refuse to break bank for Gilroy

The Leafs lost out on the bidding for Matt Gilroy.(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The Leafs lost out on the bidding for Matt Gilroy.(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 1:36 PM ET

Brian Burke wanted to sign Matt Gilroy, he just didn't want to get silly about it.

And silly has a price tag, apparently, as the Leafs lost out on the bidding for the much sought after free agent from Boston University.

Gilroy yesterday agreed to terms with the New York Rangers, signing what sources say was a two-year deal worth $3.5 million U.S. While many believe the Hobey Baker winner as NCAA hockey's outstanding player is a surefire NHLer, Burke clearly wasn't willing to overpay for the 24-year-old.

Reached in Boston yesterday, Gilroy wouldn't confirm the terms of the deal to Sun Media, but the Long Island, N.Y., native has admitted one of his goals was to get a chance to play in the NHL in his rookie season as a pro.

"Getting the chance to play right away is very important," Gilroy told Sun Media's Mike Zeisberger on Thursday night while attending the Bruins-Canadiens game at the TD Banknorth Garden. "I want to get in there as quick as I can.

"It shows that a team really believes in you."

The other big attraction is believed to be the fact that the Rangers offered Gilroy a one-way contract, meaning he will get NHL money regardless of whether he plays with the big team or in the minors. The late-blooming all-American is not eligible to play for the Rangers this post-season.

When asked about Gilroy earlier this week, Burke gave the impression that the Leafs might be slipping from contention to sign the highly touted defenceman, who led the Boston University Terriers to the NCAA championship this past week.

On Thursday, Gilroy said that Toronto still was in the mix but Burke hadn't had any recent contact with his agent, Kent Hughes.

Besides a reluctance to get in a bidding war for the unproven player, the Leafs weren't willing to offer the prospect a one-way deal. Besides Burke, Gilroy had been recruited by assistant GM Dave Nonis and another member of the Leafs' management team, Joe Nieuwendyk.

Gilroy said he was flattered by the interest from what he called a "hockey-crazed market" but in the end, Gilroy opted for big money from the team that was his favourite as a youngster.

Burke made waves two weeks ago when he signed a pair of other prominent NCAA stars -- Christian Hanson of Notre Dame and the University of Denver's Tyler Bozak.

ROB.LONGLEY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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