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Ferguson Busy on Draft Day

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

June 24, 2006

VANCOUVER (CP) -- The Toronto Maple Leafs had to give up a netminder to shore up their goaltending situation.

General manager John Ferguson dealt the rights to Finnish prospect Tuukka Rask to the Boston Bruins in exchange for goaltender Andrew Raycroft during the NHL entry draft Saturday.

Tlusty is glad that he was selected by the Maple Leafs
(Getty Images/NHLI)

Ferguson said it was tough to give up a top prospect like Rask, but Raycroft can help the team now.

"He's already proven himself to be a No. 1,'' said Ferguson. "He's a former rookie of the year at that position and it really fits in well with our group and what we're trying to do going forward.''

The Leafs have an option on veteran goalie Ed Belfour and Jean-Sebastien Aubin and Mikael Tellqvist are under contract and will battle for the backup role.

Raycroft, 26, from Belleville, Ont., won the Calder Trophy in 2004 when he went 29-18-9 with a goals-against average of 2.05. He dropped down the Bruins' depth chart behind Hannu Toivonen and Tim Thomas last season when he posted a 8-19-2 record and a 3.71 GAA.

The Leafs selected Rask with the 21st pick last year and he was named the best goaltender at this year's world junior hockey championship. The Leafs already have a blue-chip prospect in Justin Pogge of the Calgary Hitmen, who was named the WHL's MVP and top goaltender last season.

"We paid a good price, but we understood we had to move something of value to get this type of player,'' said Ferguson. "We've done that and we're excited to have (Raycroft) in the fold.''

Raycroft signed a $1.35-million qualifying offer from the Bruins but Ferguson will try to get his signature on a long-term contract.

"We don't anticipate any hurdles getting him done for the right number and whatever the right term is,'' Ferguson said.

Earlier, the Leafs selected forward Jiri Tlusty with the 13th overall pick. The 18-year-old from the Czech Republic is a six-foot, 196-pounder who was rated third among European skaters by NHL Central Scouting.

"It's one of the best organizations and I'd love to play for the Maple Leafs,'' Tlusty said through interpreter Peter Ihnacak, a former Leaf who's now one of the team's European scouts.

Tlusty is planning to attend the Leafs' prospect camp in a couple weeks. He was the captain of the Czech Republic's under-18 team. He has excellent speed with soft hands and a hard shot.

Tlusty had seven goals and three assists for 10 points in 44 games with Kladno last season. Tlusty said he has the opportunity to be a top forward with the Czech League club next season, but added he will sit down with the Leafs' brass soon to discuss his future plans.

With its second pick, 44th overall, the Leafs took Russian right-winger Nikolai Kulemin, a good skater who was solid at the world junior tournament last winter.

Toronto also drafted six-foot-two Red Deer Rebels goaltender James Reimer in the 99th spot. International Scouting Services had Reimer ranked 189th.

With another fourth-round chance, 111th overall, the Leafs selected six-foot-three German skater Korb Holzer.

Ferguson's next order of business is firming up the Bryan McCabe situation.

Ferguson needs an answer soon since he may have to turn to Plan B with a number of high-profile unrestricted free agents on the market July 1.

"We continue to discuss things and the communication levels are really positive and open,'' Ferguson said. "But the fact remains, the deal's not done.''

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