Two Maple Leaf prospects will be on display at the upcoming world junior hockey championship, which gets underway Wednesday in Liberec and Pardubice, Czech Republic.
Tyler Ruegsegger, a forward selected 166th overall in the 2006 entry draft, will represent the United States. A member of the University of Denver hockey team, he is third in scoring in WCHA conference play with 15 points, scoring seven goals and adding eight assists in 14 games.
Juraj Mikus, a defenceman selected 134th in the 2007 entry draft, will suit up for Slovakia. Mikus has been playing for the Slovak under-20 team.
General manager John Ferguson said reports were encouraging concerning Carlo Colaiacovo's first game in more than eight months, a 4-2 Marlies road victory over the Rochester Americans Friday night.
Shaking off early signs of rust, Colaiacovo played almost 20 minutes and finished the game at plus-one.
Colaiacovo skated again yesterday morning and, according to team officials, did not seem to have any residual pain from the win in Rochester.
The door is now open for Colaiacovo to return to the Leafs for their post-Christmas road games, either Dec. 26 against the New York Islanders or Dec. 27 in Philadelphia.
Colaiacovo would relieve some of the workload from the Leafs top four defencemen, Tomas Kaberle, Pavel Kubina, Ian White and Hal Gill, who have been gobbling up the majority of the ice time on the back end in the absence of the injured Bryan McCabe.
FRIENDS TURN TO FOES
Florida Panthers forward Stephen Weiss, a native of the Toronto area, admitted yesterday that he grew up as a fan of Mats Sundin, the career leading scorer in Leaf franchise history.
Asked if he's ever informed the Toronto captain of that fact, Weiss shook his head no.
"I'm usually too busy attempting to win faceoffs from him," Weiss said.
Weiss, during his minor hockey days, was once coached by Leafs play-by-play man Joe Bowen.
"Sometimes when he couldn't make our games because of work, he would make a tape that would be played before our games as a pep talk," Weiss said.
"He took us on a few trips. I remember one of them was to Detroit. I got my first Leaf autograph there. I think it was Glenn Anderson."