Maple Leafs add Finger, Hagman, bring back Joseph
Curtis Joseph became the latest person to rejoin the Toronto sports scene after a lengthy absence, as he was welcomed back to the Maple Leafs on Tuesday.
The goaltender signed a one-year, $700,000 US deal and is expected to be the club's backup behind Vesa Toskala.
Joseph joins Maple Leafs general manager Cliff Fletcher and Toronto Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston, all of whom have returned to the city in recent months after triumphs several years ago.
In deals with less sentimental value but more importance on the ice, the Maple Leafs signed defenceman Jeff Finger to a four-year, $14-million US deal and reached terms on another four-year pact with erstwhile Dallas Stars forward Niklas Hagman.
Finger, 28, impressed in his first full season in the NHL, scoring eight goals, 11 assists and a plus-12 rating in 72 games with Colorado.
The Houghton, Mich., native earned $450,000 US last season. He was drafted in the eighth round by Colorado in 1999 and played college hockey at St. Cloud State before apprenticing in the minors.
Last season, Hagman recorded career highs in goals (27), short-handed markers (four) and game-winning goals (eight).
"We are very happy to add Niklas to our team and we look forward to him bringing his speed, grit and scoring touch to our lineup," said Fletcher. "He’s a scoring threat while shorthanded and he uses his speed to score clutch goals." Hagman, who will turn 29 next season, also has played for his native Finland at the 2002 and 2006 Olympics.
Joseph was a workhorse in net for the Maple Leafs between 1998 and 2002, recording 17 shutouts in 249 regular season games. He backstopped the Leafs to a pair of appearances in the NHL's Eastern Conference final during his first stint with the team. He has notched eight shutouts in 60 playoff games.
Joseph, 41, was out of work at the beginning of last season but after playing for Canada at the Spengler Cup, he signed midway through the campaign with the Calgary Flames.
He posted a 2.55 goals-against average in nine games with the Flames and was outstanding in relief of Miikka Kiprusoff in the playoffs, allowing just one goal in 79 minutes against the San Jose Sharks.
The Keswick, Ont., native has recorded 51 shutouts in 922 career games, with a 2.78 average and .907 save percentage. He began his career with St. Louis in 1989-90 and has also played for Edmonton, Detroit and Phoenix.
Toronto has been looking for a goaltender comfortable with the backup role behind No. 1 man Toskala. The Maple Leafs waived Andrew Raycroft with one year left on his contract after a disastrous 2007-08 season.
With files from the Canadian Press