The Toronto Maple Leafs missed out on a chance to upgrade their offence when the Sedin twins decided to stay with the Vancouver Canucks, but they did manage to beef up their blueline on the opening day of free agency.
Toronto general manager Brian Burke was on his way to Sweden to visit unrestricted goalie Jonas Gustavsson, who has delayed his decision until later this week, and possibly drop by to recruit Daniel and Henrik Sedin when the twins re-signed with the Canucks less than an hour before the noon ET time start to free agency.
So instead Burke signed hard-hitting rearguard Mike Komisarek and moved out veteran defenceman Pavel Kubina and his team-high salary of $5-million (all currency U.S.) in a trade with the Atlanta Thrashers for rugged blueliner Garnet Exelby.
The 27-year-old Komisarek agreed to a five-year, $22.5-million pact, while the 28-year-old Exelby has a year remaining on his contract worth a salary cap hit of $1.4-million.
To land Komisarek, the Leafs beat out the New York Islanders - he grew up on Long Island - the New York Rangers and the Montreal Canadiens.
"We definitely had options," said Komisarek, who was invited to the U.S. Olympic summer camp by Burke earlier in the week.
"I was looking for opportunities to grow. Ron Wilson is a good coach and Brian Burke is a proven winner. I like the direction the team is going in."
Burke discussed trade options with the Thrashers last week at the draft in an attempt to move up and snatch the fourth overall selection. But the asking price was steep. Still, the talks laid the groundwork for a deal in which Thrashers GM Don Waddell received the top-four defenceman he desired in Kubina.
Atlanta also received the rights to Toronto farmhand Tim Stapleton in exchange fourth-liner Colin Stuart, 27, the older brother of Boston Bruins defenceman Mark Stuart.
The Leafs also were in the running for rugged forward Chris Neil, who opted to stay with the Ottawa Senators for a four-year, $8-million deal.
With the Sedins out of the picture, Burke also looked at signing local product Mike Cammalleri, but the bidding was high for the 39-goal scorer and he eventually locked up with the Canadiens on a five-year, $30-million contract.
The Sedins weren't the only Canucks who interested Burke. He also wanted to bring veteran defenceman Mattias Ohlund to Toronto, but he was one of the first players to move yesterday, inking a long-term seven-year deal worth $3.75-million a season with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Leafs' first move of the day was to sign enforcer Colton Orr. The Winnipeg native is no relation to the legendary Bobby Orr, but the more famous Orr is the agent for the newest Leafs tough guy and about as far on the other side of the talent scale as can be from his client.
He's a tough customer, who engaged in 18 scraps last season. Orr has played 245 NHL games and racked up 549 penalty minutes, and had the third highest penalty minute total last season at 193, behind Dan Carcillo of the Philadelphia Flyers and Canucks defenceman Shane O'Brien.
The Detroit Red Wings, Phoenix Coyotes and Ottawa Senators had significant interest in Orr, but the Leafs beat their opponents to the punch with their deal.
Playing in Toronto has the 27-year-old Orr excited.
"Growing up in Winnipeg, how can you not want to one day play for the Maple Leafs?" Orr said. "It was a really nerve-racking process, but I think their situation was the best opportunity for me."
The Leafs now have 22 players at $47.6-million under contract, if you include players from U.S. colleges: Viktor Stalberg, Tyler Bozak and Christian Hanson. Toronto still has more than $9-million to spend to the salary-cap ceiling and possibly more if they move Tomas Kaberle for some help up front.
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