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Leafs notebook: Roberts sugery, Leafs hope to sign Yushky

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
by John McCauley


Gary Roberts underwent the first of his two shoulder surgeries on Wednesday. The procedure was performed on his right shoulder by Dr. Tony Miniacci of Toronto Western Hospital and deemed a success.

Roberts will have the same surgery in his left shoulder in early August. The rugged power forward isn't expected to return until February.

Roberts had surgery on Thursday.
Graig Abel Photography
Lost in the all the discussion of injuries and unrestricted free agents is players who are considered group II free agents. These players can accept a qualifying offer by their respective clubs or file for salary arbitration. Any team can sign a player of this status but his original team has the right match any offer. If the player does sign with another club, draft choice compensation comes back the other way based on the contract's size.

In the Leafs case, there are several key players who fall into this category -- Nik Antropov, Wade Belak, Aki Berg, Jonas Hoglund, Alyn McCauley -- but none more important than Dmitry Yushkevich.

The stalwart defenceman suffered through a blood clot in his leg and played only 55 games last year, missing all of the playoffs and the Olympic tournament.

At 30 years old, Yushkevich is one year away from the possibility of being an unrestricted free agent, but the Leafs would like to have his services for much longer than that.

"We're going to try to sign Yusky this summer," said GM and head coach Pat Quinn. "We have his rights for one year but our intention is to sign him for longer than one year. Are we in that blackmail year? Yes we are. That what I call it, the blackmail year."

Quinn made those comments because the agent for Yushkevich, Mark Gandler, is well known for having his clients hold out rather than agree to a deal.

"That's the ugly part of this game, figuring out who's going to get what, and we don't always get it right," admitted Quinn. "Ideally, you'd have your best player make the most, your second best player make the second most and so on. That's how it should be, in theory. But with free agents every year you can't do that."

What would be ideal for the Leafs is that Yushkevich not be a free agent any time in the near future.
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