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Leafs strike deals with restricted free agents

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
by John McCauley

TORONTO -- When you're designated a restricted free agent it can be sticky situation. That's why in most cases every effort is made to avoid it by both the team and the player.

The process itself can alienate players because their employer is listing their deficiencies while they point out accomplishments to an independant arbitrator. A wide gap can result in resentment.

The Leafs announced they have successfully avoided salary arbitration with Alyn McCauley and Wade Belak. It has been reported that Jonas Hoglund agreed to a contract but no announcement has been made by the Leafs.

The only two members of the Leafs that did file were Aki Berg and Dmitry Yushkevich according to reports.

Berg applied as a precautionary measure because he may be close to a two-year deal with the club. If that falls through, then he would have his case heard.

Yushkevich also filed for arbitration but it may be a last resort if a long-term deal can't be worked out. The rugged defenceman is set to become an unrestricted free agent after next season and a one-year arbitration deal could open the door to his departure. Both sides have expressed interest in a long-term contract.

Yushkevich suffered a blood clot in his leg last February. Doctors have maintained that he will be ready to play at training camp.

"The information we have been presented is that the situation involving his blood clot has been all but resolved," Bill Watters told the Toronto Sun. "If he is not ready for training camp, it should not be because of (the clot).

"The prospect of a long-term deal has been discussed."

All arbitration hearings are scheduled for sometime between Aug. 1 and 15 in Toronto.
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