Hockey

Leafs sign Mogilny to multi-year deal

The Toronto Maple Leafs dipped into the NHL's evaporating free agent pool on Tuesday, coming to terms with forward Alexander Mogilny.

On Tueday, the Leafs confirmed that they had agreed to a four-year $22-milion deal with the Russian right winger.

"He's one of the more talented players I've ever had the privilege of coaching," said Leafs head coach and general manager Pat Quinn, who coached Mogilny with the Vancouver Canucks in 1995-96.

"The motive behind this was to try to take a step closer to what we have set out to do -- to have a team that competes for the Stanley Cup. There's no guarantee, but it puts us closer."

Quinn was also quick to deny that he and Mogilny shared a strained relationship.

"There was no friction," he said. "That might have come from a contract negotiation that was extended, but that's business."

The Leafs were expected to be active players in free agent market this off-season. The team had expressed interest in high profile players like Joe Sakic, Rob Blake, and Martin Lapointe.

But a flurry of weekend activity saw most of the big name players get new deals. Both Sakic and Blake re-signed with the Avalanche, Lapointe inked a deal with the Bruins and the Leafs looked to have missed out on a chance to improve their club.

"It will be difficult, but I think the transition will be smooth," Mogilny said. "I think Toronto will have a wonderful club and it's a great city with great fans.

"There's no better place to be. I like that it's a veteran team with great goaltending and lots of good young players like (Tomas) Kaberle.

"They've got the ingredients to win it all."

While the Mogilny signing is the Toronto's first foray into the unrestricted free agent pool this off-season, the club has been active.

Last month, the Leafs acquired NHL ex-pats Robert Reichel and Mikael Renberg, who played in Europe last season, and the gritty forward Travis Green from the Phoenix Coyotes.

In Mogilny the Leafs add a prolific goal scorer. Seven times during his 13-year career Mogilny has reached the 30-goal plateau. During the 1992-93 season, he scored 76 goals while playing with the Buffalo Sabres.

In 780 career NHL games, he has 396 goals and 445 assists with the Sabres, Vancouver Canucks and New Jersey Devils.

"I knew it wouldn't be easy to go back (to New Jersey)," said Mogilny, who was the Devils' highest-paid player at $5.2 million US last season.

"I know how (general manager) Lou (Lamoriello) negotiates contracts. It was difficult to accept.

"I wanted to stay there, I won't lie to you. But it didn't work out.

"The numbers were what we were looking at, I wasn't ready to sacrifice that amount of change."

Last year, Mogilny led the Devils with 43 goals, but struggled in the playoffs, recording 16 points in 25 games.

"I hope I can score more, but I can't promise," Mogilny said. "I don't like to open up my mouth before I do anything.

"But I can score 50. I'm not making any predictions, but I know I'm capable of it."

Mogilny is expected to be teamed with Mats Sundin and Renberg on the Leafs' top line.

In another move, the Maple Leafs placed backup goalie Glen Healey on waivers to make room for newly ssigned Swedish Elite League goaltender Mikael Tellqvist to a multi-year contract.

The 21-year-old Tellqvist backstopped Djurgardens to a second straight Elite League championship by recording five shutouts and a 2.08 goals against average in 43 games.

Tellqvist also had a shutout and 2.68 GAA in 16 playoff starts.