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Belak dealt to Panthers for pick

Tuesday, 02.26.2008 / 1:51 PM / 2008 Trade Deadline

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Wade Belak
The rebuilding plan for the Toronto Maple Leafs will start with a 2008 fifth round draft pick acquired from the Florida Panthers. Leafs GM Cliff Fletcher was able to acquire the pick in exchange for little-used, but very-much appreciated winger Wade Belak.

Belak is a career enforcer, and hardly a scorer. The goal he scored on Dec. 4 against Nashville snapped a streak of 143 NHL games without one. But, at 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds Belak could provide some muscle for the Panthers this season.

The Panthers have fallen six points out of a playoff spot with a 1-3-1 record in their last five games. They have 63 points, which ironically ties them with the Maple Leafs for 12th in the Conference.

Belak, though, is a pending unrestricted free agent following this season, so he may only be a quick rental for the Panthers. He had 66 penalty minutes in 30 games for the Leafs this season.

The key for the Maple Leafs is acquiring a draft pick in return for a player who averages only four minutes of ice time per game and is quite often a healthy scratch. The 2008 NHL Entry Draft is supposed to be one of the deepest in recent memory.

Contact Dan Rosen at drosen@nhl.com.

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