Can't Win 'Em All
There will be no Norwegian Hobbit for the Maple Leafs. Ah, the headlines that could have been.
Mats Zuccarello-Aasen, the diminutive winger who played for Norway at the Vancouver Olympics, has apparently decided to sign as an unrestricted free agent with the New York Rangers after several clubs, including the Leafs, were interested in bringing the Swedish league scoring champ to North America next season.
That's the long and short of it. Or at least the short of it. The long may yet be available to the Leafs in 6-foot-5 Finnish goaltender Jussi Rynnas, who is still contemplating offers from six teams.
"He turns 23 in the next few weeks and the key for us is opportunity and making sure he doesn't paint himself into a corner with his contract," said Rynnas' St. Louis based agent Allain Roy, who also represents Anaheim netminder Jonas Hiller.
"We're hoping to have a decision by next week."
The Leafs were actually hoping to have something earlier, and were interested enough after meeting with Rynnas in Montreal 12 days ago that Brian Burke and Dave Nonis flew to Helsinki to try and convinced Rynnas to sign. A big part of the Leaf pitch is the presence of highly respected goaltending consultant Francois Allaire in the Leaf organization.
"They do have an asset there," admitted Roy.
Edmonton, Dallas, Minnesota, Montreal and Philly are thought to be the other interested clubs. Right now, the Leafs have newly signed Jonas Gustavsson under contract for the next two seasons and J.S. Giguere signed through next year, so they're obviously looking to add goaltending depth.
If Rynnas chooses to go elsewhere, the Leafs still may look at Cornell netminder Ben Scrivens, who has yet to sign with an NHL club as a collegiate free agent.