Little, big man

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:31 AM ET

COLUMBUS -- A euphoric Dale Mitchell was a Maple Leaf for only 10 minutes and already he found himself deeply entrenched in the historic Montreal-Toronto rivalry.

As he addressed the media moments after being taken 74th overall by the Leafs yesterday, Mitchell was informed of the salvos being thrown out by fellow Etobicoke native P.K. Subban.

Earlier in the day, Subban, who had been selected 43rd by the Montreal Canadiens, predicted that he would "bring another Stanley Cup to Montreal and then bring the Cup back home, parade it through the streets of Toronto and let all the kids touch it."

The prospect of seeing Subban in a Habs jersey lugging the trophy through The Big Smoke, well, it just didn't sit well with the newest Leaf.

"I'll be the one carrying the Cup through the streets for the Leafs," Mitchell proclaimed before breaking into a huge smile.

In Mitchell, the Leafs acquired a gifted 5-foot-8 fireplug who racked up 43 goals for the Ontario Hockey League's Oshawa Generals this season.

"He's a kid who is really strong on his feet despite his size and who won't back down from anyone," longtime OHL executive Sherry Bassin said. "And if you check, most of his goals came 5-on-5, not on the power play."

And for the record, Mitchell, 18, wants to make it clear that his impressive offensive numbers were not a direct result of feasting on the leftovers of superstar teammate John Tavares.

"I don't even play on his line, I play on the second line," Mitchell said.

"There have been some questions about my size, but I have a strong centre of gravity. I can handle these guys."

Having traded their first- and second-round picks to San Jose on Monday, Mitchell was the Leafs' first pick of the weekend, kicking off a run of six selections.

Skilled goal-scoring forwards seemed to be the order of the day with four of those prospects playing up on the forward lines.

Asked if it was frustrating for the team's scouting staff to see early picks traded away after almost a year of monitoring prospects, Leafs director of amateur scouting Dave Morrison took it in stride.

"We knew the different scenarios," he said. "The guys we got (from San Jose) make the team better. That's the important thing."

The Leafs picked another Toronto-area kid, Quebec league forward Christopher DiDomenico, in the sixth round. He and Mitchell often played against each other during their minor midget days.

"I was a little down after I wasn't picked for a while, but I'm so excited it was Toronto," DiDomenico said.

General manager John Ferguson will continue working the phones in the days leading up to the July 1 free-agency period, perhaps trying to deal a defenceman. Meanwhile, under NHL rules, he will not be allowed to sign goalie Vesa Toskala to an extension before that date.


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