Burke won't break bank for MacArthur

Maple Leafs forward Clarke MacArthur shoots during warmups at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto,...

Maple Leafs forward Clarke MacArthur shoots during warmups at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ont., Sep. 27, 2010. (Abelimages/Getty Images/AFP)

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:41 PM ET

TORONTO - Don Meehan, the agent for Maple Leafs winger Clarke MacArthur, shares the view that his client is headed for salary arbitration with the club.

“It seems like it as of now,” Meehan told QMI Agency via e-mail. “However, we will still make all efforts to get him signed.”

When MacArthur opened with five goals in the first four games with Toronto and was on a near point-a-game pace in December and January, it looked like a new multi-year deal was a lock. MacArthur ended up second in team scoring with 62 points, a career high, and was clearly enjoying his new team and surroundings. But from Feb. 7 onwards he had just five goals and the Leafs missed the playoffs again.

General manager Brian Burke said Monday he was ready to take his chances with an arbitrator later this summer, reserving the right to walk away if MacArthur won and the Leafs considered the settlement too costly. Without mentioning names, Burke has stated in the past his reluctance to pay mega-bucks to Leafs who have first-line roles because of the team’s lack of depth.

MacArthur is 1-0 in arbitration after Atlanta was told to pay $2.2 million US for his 35-point year in 2009-10. But GM Rick Dudley walked away and MacArthur eventually came to the Leafs for $1.1 million. A deal could be reached with Toronto right up to the time the arbitration case is heard.

Eagle eyes Hall

The Leafs could have another alumnist in the players’ wing of the Hockey Hall of Fame when the selection committee meets next week in Toronto. Goaltender Ed Belfour joins Vancouver Canucks’ Trevor Linden as the most notable first-year eligibles. Belfour won 93 games with Toronto as part of 484 career victories, plus a Stanley Cup with Dallas in 1999 and two Canada Cups.

Another long-serving, newly eligible player with a Cup and a distant Leafs connection is defenceman Glen Wesley. But this so-called soft year for election could finally be the chance for former Toronto captain Doug Gilmour. The club’s career playoff points leader and a Cup champion with Calgary is parked with a group that includes three ex-Leafs — Alex Mogilny, Joe Nieuwendyk and Dave Andreychuk. Also in the running are former players Adam Oates, Pierre Turgeon and Bernie Nicholls.

A maximum of four males and two females can be chosen each year, as well as one to two builders and on-ice officials. The late coach Pat Burns could be admitted as a builder.

Huskies' reunion

A few people have pointed out that the 13th-ranked draft eligible player among North Americans is Toronto-born Jamie Oleksiak. The 6-foot-7 defenceman just happened to play for new Leafs assistant coach Greg Cronin at Northeastern University.

The Leafs might not be able to move up as high as the top five, but around 13th is a possibility. Toronto holds the 25th and 30th picks in the first round and their second rounder is at 39. Burke has said at least one of the two first rounders could be used to move up.

“We do not intend to be an idle bystander on either day (Friday or Saturday),” Burke told TSN earlier this week. “It’s a funny draft. There is no star power, but there are a lot of good players. After the (top group) of four or five, there’s a good pile that goes well past 50.”

Blue, white and red

Burke was asked Monday about adding two more American coaches to a hockey department that’s already steeped in stars and stripes.

“The thought had not occurred to us, until someone brought it up that we might get asked (in the press conference),” Burke replied. “I didn’t ask for birth certificates or passports. I got past that a long time ago. If (head coach) Ron Wilson had said he wanted a Czech, we would have hired one.”

Burke is more familiar with Scott Gordon than Cronin, from his assisting Wilson with the U.S. national team.

“I like energy, I like innovation, I like new ideas,” Burke said of the former New York Islanders head coach. “He was sharp with players when he saw something he didn’t like. He acted like an assistant coach off the ice and like a head coach on the ice.”

Loose Leafs

Four of Toronto’s 2011 pre-season games have been revealed, Sept. 23 and 24 against the Buffalo Sabres and Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 against the Detroit Red Wings. The Leafs will be in Detroit on the Friday and back home on the Saturday. The 7 p.m. starts begin at the Air Canada Centre on Friday the 23rd against the Sabres, then back to HSBC Arena the next evening.

lance.hornby@sunmedia.ca


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