As Darcy Tucker, Kyle Wellwood and Andrew Raycroft try not to let the door hit them on the way out of the Air Canada Centre, general manager Cliff Fletcher sits inside, ready to welcome the new faces he believes will lead the Leafs back to contention.
Tucker will have his buyout papers in a few days, Wellwood was claimed by the goal-starved Vancouver Canucks and Raycroft cleared waivers, with his future to be determined by the weekend.
“I think they (the Leafs) are just going in a different direction,” Wellwood said. “They’re looking for different types of players. They’re trying to shake things up a bit.”
Indeed, the remodelling of the Maple Leafs continues at breakneck speed. Fletcher expects the Mats Sundin situation to be cleared up by the weekend.
Sundin told reporters in Sweden that he hadn’t yet made up his mind to return, much less consider an offer from the Montreal Canadiens. The Leafs haven’t heard from Sundin since they gave Montreal exclusive negotiating rights.
“I’m sure we’ll have news on the weekend, which is still 48 hours from free agency (July 1),” said Fletcher. “He knows what the situation in Toronto is. If he decided he didn’t want to go to Montreal, there’s nothing precluding him from signing with us.”
Among his free-agent pursuits on July 1, Fletcher will need to find a backup to replace Raycroft should the team buy him out. Alex Auld or Wade Dubielewicz are possibilities. Scott Clemmensen won’t be offered a contract.
Fletcher won’t send Raycroft to the Marlies, where Justin Pogge is going to get the lion’s share of work. Recently signed rookie James Reimer, a fourth-round pick from the Red Deer Rebels in the 2006 draft, is coming in as backup.
“We’re going to find out if Pogge is our goaltender of the future,” the GM said.