Leafs agree to deal with Peca
TORONTO (CP) – The Toronto Maple Leafs had a tentative deal in place with centre Michael Peca after meeting with the unrestricted free agent and his camp Monday, a source told The Canadian Press.
An official announcement was expected Tuesday with Peca, an unrestricted free agent, agreeing to a $2.5-million US, one-year deal. The Leafs and Peca have been courting each other for well over a week with both camps agreeing Toronto is a good fit for the 11-year NHL centre.
The 32-year-old Toronto native, a two-time Selke Trophy winner as the NHL’s top defensive forward, makes his off-season home in Buffalo, making Toronto an ideal geographical location.
Peca, who earned $3.99 million last season in Edmonton, rebounded with a strong second half and terrific playoff after a slow start to the regular season. He put up six goals, five assists and a plus-5 rating in 24 playoff games, winning key faceoffs and killing penalties while centring a line between Fernando Pisani and Raffi Torres that was instrumental in the Oilers’ magical run. He had nine goals and 14 assists in 71 regular-season games.
In Toronto, Peca fills one of the voids left by centres Jason Allison and Eric Lindros, the latter signing with the Dallas Stars on Monday. Allison, also an unrestricted free agent, isn’t expected back with the Leafs.
Peca, who has 394 career points (160-234) in 693 regular-season games with Vancouver, Buffalo, Long Island and Edmonton, was traded to Edmonton from the Islanders last Aug. 3 in exchange for forward Mike York and a fourth-round pick in last Saturday’s entry draft.
Peca, a junior star with the Ottawa 67’s, was also a member of Team Canada’s 2002 Olympic champion team in Salt Lake City.