TORONTO (AP) -The Maple Leafs traded veteran defenseman Bryan McCabe and a fourth-round draft pick to the Florida Panthers for defenseman Mike Van Ryn, ridding Toronto of its biggest contractual obligation.
McCabe waived his no-trade clause to allow the deal, that had been rumored for weeks, to go through. McCabe's willingness to be traded was a change in philosophy as it was earlier stated that the Maple Leafs would have to buy out his contract to get rid of him.
The 33-year-old McCabe had been one of the longest-serving Maple Leafs after being acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks on Oct. 2, 2000. He developed in Toronto after bouncing from the New York Islanders to the Vancouver Canucks to the Blackhawks. He recently became a scapegoat for fans who thought his performance dipped after he signed a five-year, $28.75-million contract in 2005-06.
His annual salary cap hit for the next three seasons will be $5.75 million even though the Panthers will only have to pay him $4.15 million per season on the front-heavy deal. The Maple Leafs are on the hook for a $2-million bonus that was due Monday.
"We are very pleased to have acquired a player with Bryan's talent level and playing experience," Panthers general manager Jacques Martin said in a statement. "Bryan is a big, strong, hard-hitting defenseman who also possesses the ability to be a goal-scorer and play on special teams.
"He will be counted on to play an integral role on our defense and to help bring future success to our franchise."
Van Ryn has two years remaining on his contract and will earn $3.35 million each season. His cap hit is only $2.9 million, allowing the Leafs to free up $11.45 million over the next three years.
Maple Leafs general manager Cliff Fletcher has been busy in remaking a team that hasn't made the playoffs since before the 2004-05 lockout. Earlier this summer, Fletcher bought out the contracts of forward Darcy Tucker and backup goalie Andrew Raycroft, and waived center Kyle Wellwood.
It also appears that the Leafs will start a season without Mats Sundin in the lineup for the first time since 1993.
McCabe missed almost two months last season due to a broken hand. He played in 54 games, scoring five goals and 23 points.
His best two seasons in Toronto came immediately before and after the lockout. In 2003-04, McCabe put up 53 points - including 16 goals - and a plus-22 rating. He finished fourth in Norris Trophy voting as the league's top defenseman.
He had a career-best 68 points (19 goals, 49 assists) the season after the lockout and played for Canada at the 2006 Turin Olympics.
Van Ryn spent the past four seasons with Florida, where he twice reached a career-high 37 points. The 29-year-old defenseman played just 20 games last season because of a wrist injury.