Toronto Maple Leafs and Andrew Raycroft, Kyle Wellwood Close to Parting Ways

Josh LewisSenior Analyst IJune 24, 2008

According to TSN and Sportsnet, the Toronto Maple Leafs have placed Andrew Raycroft and Kyle Wellwood on waivers.

It's the first step to buying out Raycroft's contract and cutting Wellwood loose as a restricted free agent without a qualifying offer.

If Raycroft clears waivers (and let's face it, no one wants this chunk of scrap metal), it's believed that the Leafs will buy out the remaining year on his contract, much like the Ottawa Senators have done with Ray Emery.

The Leafs would have to pay Raycroft two-thirds of his $2 million salary, which would be spread over the next two years for a cap hit of $667,000 each year.

That's a tiny price to pay for getting rid of dead weight, especially for a team that should have a lot of cap space. Best of all, this allows the Leafs to bring up Scott Clemmensen or Justin Pogge as the backup, which makes room for prospect James Reimer on the Marlies' roster.

Wellwood's status is slightly more unclear.

There is no guarantee that the 25-year-old center would clear waivers. His passing ability and on-ice vision are undeniable, which could make him attractive to a number of teams. The problem is that he's displayed no commitment to conditioning or training, which is a major reason he's been injury-riddled in recent years.

If Wellwood does clear, the Leafs could do a number of things with him.

They could choose not to qualify him, which would make him an unrestricted free agent; they could qualify him and get him signed for about a million dollars, presumably for one year; they could sign him to a two-way contract and send him to the AHL; or they could qualify him and wait until later in the summer in the hopes of another team signing him to an offer sheet and giving up draft picks as compensation.

There are a number of positives to buying out Raycroft's contract.

One, the Leafs are rid of his cavalier attitude. Two, it gives Pogge a chance to compete for a job in training camp. Three, it allows them to bring up Reimer to the Marlies. Four, it continues the changing of the guard.

As for Wellwood, I believe his days with the Leafs are rightfully over. For all his skill, he's gained a reputation as a lazy player and has been passed on the depth chart by several players, including Alex Steen, Matt Stajan, and Jiri Tlusty.

Unless Wellwood is suddenly willing to work at improving his game, I say good riddance.