GM John Ferguson insists Leafs are going in the right direction

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The Leafs missed the NHL playoffs by one point when the regular season ended Sunday.

"We're real disappointed in what transpired here but determined, obviously, to make right, to get us back to where we need to be and to make those kind of changes that we wind up on the right side of the margin going forward," Ferguson said Tuesday during a news conference.

The competitive balance in the league has never been greater and, had it not been for injuries, the Leafs might have made it into the postseason, he said.

"We're on the right path," he said. "We're relying on a greater number of young players contributing in important roles throughout our lineup."

The depth of talent in the organization is deep, he said.

Ferguson said he's already spoken with Mats Sundin's agent about a new contract for the longtime Leafs captain.

"In his contract right now is a June 1 to June 5 window to exercise an option," said Ferguson. "I don't expect it to get that far."

The salary cap will be going up and "we feel good about what we can do with the available funds."

Asked about what positions he'd like to strengthen, Ferguson dodged the question.

"If there is a deal that will improve us at any position we'll do it," he said.

As for No. 1 goalie Andrew Raycroft, "We really liked the growth he made in playing 72 games and winning 37.

"Obviously, he can be better and needs to be better in terms of consistency through the year to be a true No. 1 and carry that load."

Ferguson signed a contract extension through 2007-2008 during the winter.

"I plan to be here a long time," he said. "I intend to be here a long time.

"We've made good strides in organizational depth and the leadership in our group is tremendous."



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