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Mason Raymond turns tryout into one-year deal with Maple Leafs

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

Raymond came to Toronto on a PTO and earned himself a contract. (USATSI)
Raymond came to Toronto on a PTO and earned himself a contract. (USATSI)

More NHL offseason: Rumors | Top 50 Free Agents | Buyout Tracker | Trades | Transactions

Mason Raymond was unable to land a contract this summer, a somewhat surprising development. But he did get a professional tryout from the Maple Leafs and now he has turned that into a contract in Toronto.

The Leafs announced on Monday that Raymond has signed a one-year deal, certainly a deal that would fit the bill for a "prove-it" contract. David Alter of Sportsnet 590 says it's for a square $1 million.

"Based on Mason's play in the preseason, we feel he fits in well with our group and will have a significant role on our team," GM Dave Nonis said. "We agreed to terms over the weekend and look forward to him making a strong contribution this season."

The question isn't whether or not Raymond can fit with the Leafs, he can. He would have fit well with a lot of teams this summer which made his lack of a contract a bit mystifying. However his old connection with Dave Nonis, who was the GM that drafted him in Vancouver, came in handy and Raymond was able to prove he was worth a shot.

Of course what's curious is to where the Maple Leafs are finding the money for this. They had about $3 million before signing Raymond and they were still negotiating with restricted free ageent Cody Franson who remains without a deal. It's been reported that Franson was asking for $3.5 million per season so now with Raymond aboard, that's even less that the Leafs can afford to pay Franson, it would appear.

On the surface it appears to be a pretty great deal for Franson but you can't evaluate just in a vacuum. It has to be viewed with Franson's situation in context as well. Now it's really difficult to imagine they can keep him around. Perhaps Franson will sign overseas or another team will -- gasp! -- send an offer sheet his way (not likely). There are always ways to free up space but it doesn't sound promising.

Raymond could really get a big shot to open the season as the Leafs are going to be without the services of newcomer David Clarkson due to his automatic 10-game suspension for coming on the ice in Sunday's brawl with the Sabres. They play on opposite wings but there is a small void left in the scoring department without Clarkson that Raymond could be tasked with trying to fill.

Raymond had 10 goals and 12 assists last season in 46 games for Vancouver. In 2009-10 he enjoyed his best campaign when he recorded 25 goals and 28 assists in a full 82 games.

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