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Wesley Will Be Good Fit

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
(CP) TORONTO -- The future is now for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and they continued to make that clear Sunday when they acquired veteran defenceman Glen Wesley for a second-round pick in the 2004 NHL entry draft.

Toronto's first-round pick in the deep and talented 2003 draft disappeared Wednesday in the blockbuster trade that brought winger Owen Nolan to the Maple Leafs.

Wesley's time with the Leafs will probably be short-lived as he is an unrestricted free agent July 1. But the quest to end Toronto's 36-year Stanley Cup drought has the Leafs giving up a little future, which has rarely been the case under Quinn.
Glen Wesley will be helping Tie Domi instead of hindering him in the future.
Graig Abel Photography

"Our goal right now, and that's why we've done this, is to try and position ourselves a little bit better for what everybody works for all year long," Leafs coach and GM Pat Quinn told reporters after practice Sunday. There might be more to come before the 3 p.m. EST trade deadline Tuesday.

"If we can get better, then we'll do it," Quinn said. "But I don't want to sell our future, either.

"We've given up some young people right now and some draft picks. That's great if you have some sort of achievement but it also leaves a hole for your future."

Wesley, 34, gives the Leafs a dependable puck-moving defenceman who makes smart decisions and rarely commits turnovers. He was only minus-5 on a Carolina Hurricanes team that has nine players in double-digit minuses.

"He's a steady player," Quinn said of Wesley. "He's responsible.

"He's had a solid career and we were looking for depth at this point. He provides experience that should help."

Wesley, earning $2.5 million (all funds US) this season, immediately becomes a top-four rearguard with Toronto along with Robert Svehla, Bryan McCabe and Tomas Kaberle.

"Right off the top I'd like to see (Wesley) paired with Bryan," Quinn said. "Bryan could go back on the right side where I think he's better.

"They might be a good pair. It's hard to say."

Some would argue Wesley's best hockey is behind him and that he has slowed down somewhat in the last two years, as has his offensive output. He has only one goal and seven assists in 63 games this season.

But Quinn likes the composure that Wesley brings.

"When he was younger, he was considered an offensive player," said Quinn. "That really hasn't been part of his game lately but he's a more complete player today. "To me, he's a better player than he was when he was young. So we look for that steadiness part."

The Leafs left Sunday for games Monday in Edmonton, Thursday in Calgary and Saturday in Vancouver. Toronto is winless in four games (0-3-1). The Leafs relinquished a two-goal lead in the third period in a 3-3 tie Saturday with Vancouver.

"Our team play hasn't been solid lately because I think our forwards are kind of on the outside trying to play a little easy," Quinn said. "They want to score without having to do the things you have to do to score. We need to shore that up."
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