After seven teams and more than 700 games, Wayne Primeau has come "home" to the Maple Leafs.
In another move to beef up the roster, this time at forward, the Leafs landed the 6-foot-4, 225-pound centre from the Calgary Flames, with a second-round pick in 2011, for defenceman Anton Stralman, winger Colin Stuart and a seventh rounder in 2012. "Two things I had wanted to accomplish, play with my brother (Keith, which never happened) and don a Leaf sweater," Wayne said last night. "My favourites growing up were Wendel Clark, Ed Olczyk and Gary Leeman. But I started my career in Buffalo and after a few years there, you learned to hate the Leafs."
Primeau, 33, was born in Scarborough, raised in Whitby and said he had his "best years" under current Leafs coach Ron Wilson while in San Jose before the lockout year.
"Ron believed in me," Primeau said. "He had a good read on the bench to put you on the first line or fourth line."
Primeau's 2008-09 season was ended by a broken foot when hit by teammate Dion Phaneuf's shot, limiting him to 24 games. More a checker, penalty killer and physical presence than scorer, Primeau has 186 points in 714 regular season games. His best offensive year was 2003-04 for the Sharks with 29 points.
Primeau is due $1.4 million US in the last of a three-year deal. Stralman, who came from Sweden with some fanfare two years ago for his offensive gifts, ended up splitting time between the Leafs and Marlies. He had a goal and 12 assists in 38 NHL games last year and 22 points in 88 overall, pushed to the bottom of the depth chart when Toronto acquired defencemen Mike Komisarek, Francois Beauchemin and Garnet Exelby. Stuart was part of the July 1 deal when Pavel Kubina was shipped to Atlanta.
The Maple Leafs will be hosting a four-team rookie tournament Sept. 6-10 at the Kitchener Auditorium, involving freshmen lineups from the Ottawa Senators, Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins...Goaltender Martin Gerber, who had hoped his strong finish with the Leafs (6-5-0-1, .905 save percentage) would result in a contract offer, instead will be taking Ray Emery's place with the KHL's Atlant Mytishchi team. Squeezed out of the picture in Toronto by the Jonas Gustavsson signing, Gerber briefly considered an offer to back up Marc-Andre Fleury in Pittsburgh.