Draft day is on: Sharks acquire three Leafs picks
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The San Jose Sharks traded goalie Vesa Toskala and forward Mark Bell to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday for three draft picks, including a first-rounder, in the first big deal of NHL draft day.
Toskala teamed up with Evgeni Nabokov over the previous three seasons to form one of the NHL's best goaltending tandems. But both players' desire to be starters prompted general manager Doug Wilson to give up a homegrown talent in exchange for draft picks.
The Sharks got the choice to take Toronto's first-round pick Friday _--13th overall -- or next season's pick. San Jose also got the Maple Leafs' second-round pick -- 44th overall -- and a fourth-round pick in 2009.
The Maple Leafs picked up a tested veteran goalie who will challenge Andrew Raycroft for their starting job. Despite playing behind Nabokov down the stretch run, Toskala went 26-10-1 for San Jose last season with a 2.35 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage -- both better numbers than Raycroft.
Toskala led the Sharks into the second round of the playoffs in 2006, then improved his statistics last season despite injuries. Though Nabokov _ who won the Calder Trophy in San Jose in 2001 _ makes much more money, he might be a cheaper long-term investment than the 30-year-old Toskala, who is only under contract through next season.
Bell flopped in his only season in San Jose, managing just 11 goals and 10 assists in 71 games after being projected as Joe Thornton's left wing when he joined the club in a trade with Chicago.
Bell, arrested on suspicion of drunk driving and felony hit-and-run before he even played a game in San Jose, has two years and $4.5 million remaining on the contract he signed after joining the Sharks.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press