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(Abelimages/2011 Getty Images)
(Abelimages/2011 Getty Images)

Giguere wants to stay but only if he'll play Add to ...

Jean-Sebastien Giguere will get the start for the Toronto Maple Leafs tomorrow in his hometown of Montreal, but just how much longer his tenure in Toronto will be isn't all that clear.

An unrestricted free agent this summer, Giguere is one of several Leafs who could be dealt before the NHL's Feb. 28 trade deadline provided he waives his no-trade clause and a team is willing to take on the roughly $1.4-million that will be remaining on his cap hit.

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Giguere sat down and discussed his situation with Leafs GM Brian Burke this week, but he didn't want to reveal what was said.

"I'd rather it stay between me and him," Giguere said. "The situation for me doesn't change much. I love playing here, I would like to stay here in the future, but you don't always control these situations.

"Hopefully I can give them a reason to keep me. I don't know what's going to happen. I don't even know if there's a trade market for me anywhere. I still make a lot of money, so it's something that can be tricky. I haven't asked - anyway, I'm going to stop there."

While Giguere has battled injury and inconsistency, the Leafs have been getting very good goaltending from rookie James Reimer since the start of January. If he can keep that up until the end of the year, he will be back in the NHL next season in one of Toronto's two jobs in the crease.

Toronto also has Jonas Gustavsson under contract for next season, although the sophomore Swede has struggled and was seeing a specialist after he had an elevated heart rate during Wednesday's game with the Toronto Marlies, where he has been playing on a two-week conditioning stint.

Unless it's determined Gustavsson will play next season in the minors, it appears a crowded situation for the 33-year-old Giguere to return to and it's believed he will waive his no-trade clause if teams show interest. Given his salary, age, injury issues and slipping play, the most he is likely to command at this point is a late round draft pick.

"Would I like to stay? Yeah," Giguere said. "I like where this organization is going. I like living here ... Saying that, this organization has a bunch of goalies in the system. So where does a veteran goalie fit into that? Does he fit into it? That's a question you have to ask Burkie.

"I wouldn't be mad at Burkie if he traded me or anything like that. I wouldn't be mad at the organization."

Leafs management have yet to comment as to their plans in goal, but it's clear there will be a major changing of the guard around the NHL this off-season. Giguere is one of more than 20 pending UFAs in the crease, a group that includes the likes of Ilya Bryzgalov, Tomas Vokoun, Dwayne Roloson, Craig Anderson, Marty Turco and Jimmy Howard, among others.

Given how teams have been cutting payroll in goal of late, it could be a challenge for many of them to find contracts close to those given out only three or four years ago.

Giguere said he realizes he will be taking a big pay cut but is hoping to find a role somewhere he can contend for a No. 1 role.

"That could make finding a job more difficult," Giguere said of all the potential free agents. "But at the same time, there will be a lot of jobs available, too ... I feel comfortable that I can still help a team. I'm not kidding myself, I know I'm going to have a pay cut, I'm not unrealistic about that.

"But I still feel like I can compete. I can help a young guy get to the level they want him to be at. There's things I can do on a team. Hopefully I'll be getting an opportunity to do that. For me, the ultimate thing is to have a chance to compete to be a No. 1. Not go somewhere and you know you're only going to play 10 games or 15 games. That would be the last situation I would want to be in.

"But at the same time, if nothing else presents itself, then I have to take a job and be a backup. Seasons are long, you never know what can happen."

And retiring isn't an option.

"I'm only 33," Giguere said. "I'm not even close to retirement."

Notebook

- Giguere had one interesting comment today on Reimer and how similar their styles are: "When I watch him, I see myself when I was 22 a little bit. It's nice to see that."

- Leafs winger Colby Armstrong was suffering blurred vision in the third period of last night's game against the Devils and was not at practice today. He will likely miss tomorrow's game against the Canadiens as he visits with specialists to determine what's causing the issue. "He's gone through some testing," coach Ron Wilson said. "We're not really sure [how it happened] He played the third period. He's got a blurry spot kind of and it doesn't seem to be serious so the doctors have told him he may have to rest a week."

- Winger Mike Brown will miss another seven to 10 days with an upper body injury and hasn't been back skating yet. The team still hasn't given the media an update on Colton Orr, who suffered a concussion three weeks ago in a fight with George Parros.

- Wilson on both Phil Kessel and Brett Lebda and their struggles in the plus-minus department: "They were headed in the wrong direction unless you were trying for the Masters green jacket. Getting them down under [minus]20 is a step in the right direction for sure."

 

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