One year after trading for Andrew Raycroft, the Toronto Maple Leafs GM made another splash Friday, reeling in Vesa Toskala from the San Jose Sharks - by far the most attractive goalie available on the trade market this off-season.
Forward Mark Bell also comes in the deal, in exchange for a package of draft picks: either a first-rounder this year or in 2008 (San Jose's option), a second-round pick this year and a fourth-round pick in '09.
The Leafs added some protection in case the Sharks chose the first-rounder in '08 - San Jose cannot take it if it's top 10 overall. In that case they get an '09 first-rounder instead.
The 30-year-old Toskala has one year remaining on a contract that pays him only US$1.375 million. Sources told The Canadian Press that Ferguson was already working on signing him to an extension.
Ferguson has been under immense pressure in his market to make a big move and he made a great one Friday. Toskala, 26-10-1 with a 2.35 goals-against average and .908 save percentage this past season, has long been viewed as a capable No. 1 goalie but had to share the net with Evgeni Nabokov in San Jose.
That Sharks GM Doug Wilson didn't receive any roster players in exchange suggests he will be busy come the July 1 opening of free agency.
The Boston Bruins, according to a source, were also heavily involved in trying to land Toskala but the Leafs won out. It may have cost Toronto having to pick up Bell, who disappointed this past season in San Jose and has $4.5 million left on his deal over the next two seasons.
The Leafs were actually in talks about acquiring Bell back at the February trade deadline but the deal never materialized.
The Bruins, meanwhile, will continue to look for an upgrade in goal.
"There are a lot of goalies out there," Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli told reporters Friday.
It's believed Chiarelli has been in talks with the Minnesota Wild about goalie Manny Fernandez, who became expendable when Nicklas Backstrom replaced him as the No. 1 goalie and was signed to a $6.2-million, two-year extension.
Fernandez, 32, has $9.25 million left over the final two years of his contract. The Phoenix Coyotes are also on the lookout for help in goal.
Toronto's big move early Friday comes on the heels of a big trade late Thursday night between Chicago and Calgary, one that still hadn't been made official. But sources confirm the Blackhawks unloaded defenceman Adrian Aucoin and the $8 million that was left over the final two years on his contract to the Flames in exchange for Andrei Zyuzin.
The deal required the veteran Aucoin to waive his no-trade clause which he finally did.
The Flames needed to acquire a top-four blue-liner because both Brad Stuart and Roman Hamrlik are expected to be lost to free agency.