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Toronto Maple Leafs to buyout Tucker, put Wellwood and Raycroft on waivers @NHLdotcom

TORONTO - The Toronto Maple Leafs and Darcy Tucker are parting ways.

Maple Leafs general manager Cliff Fletcher informed Tucker on Tuesday he would be bought out.

Tucker's agent Carlos Sosa told The Canadian Press the team would officially notify Tucker of the buyout Wednesday, and he would be an unrestricted free agent 24 hours after the notice has been given.

"It is what it is. We've been ready for this for a while. It is a business," Sosa said.

Tucker has three years left on his contract and will be owed two-thirds of it - or US$6 million - paid back over a six-year term by the Leafs. The veteran forward signed a four-year extension with the team in February 2007.

Tucker's contract included a no-movement clause and he opted not to go through waivers.

The Maple Leafs were busy Tuesday, putting forward Kyle Wellwood and goalie Andrew Raycroft on NHL waivers and possibly paving the way for their exit.

"We put them on waivers, we'll take it one step at a time and we'll see what happens tomorrow," Fletcher said.

Wellwood, 25, had 21 points (8-13) and a minus-12 rating in 59 games last season while earning US$950,000, the last year of his contract. If he goes unclaimed on waivers, it's expected the Leafs will not tender him a qualifying offer which will make him an unrestricted free agent July 1.

Raycroft, 28, appeared in only 19 games last season after losing his starting job to Vesa Toskala. Raycroft went 2-9-5 with a 3.92 goal-against average and .876 save per centage while earning $2 million.

He has one year left on his deal at $2.2 million and it wasn't clear whether Tuesday's move was the first step towards a buyout or not.

"I don't know what they're planning on doing," Raycroft's agent Jordan Neumann said Tuesday. "If it was me, I would put him on recall waivers, see what happens that way, and if he wasn't claimed then I would keep him.

"Because financially it doesn't seem to make a lot of sense to buy him out and then add the cost of another replacement goaltender," added Neumann. "It's going to end up costing you roughly the same amount and you're not going to get a guy as good as Andrew."

However, Toronto can't place Raycroft on re-entry waivers until this fall.

Should the Leafs put Raycroft on re-entry waivers, a team can claim him for half his salary next season. A buyout would be about a $700,000 salary cap hit against the Leafs next season and in 2009-10.

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