Czerkawski all signed up

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:33 AM ET

Reputedly, Mariusz Czerkawski can do back flips after he scores.

If the new Maple Leafs right winger can hit in the 30 to 40-goal range this season, perhaps as Mats Sundin's linemate, it will be Toronto's hockey office doing the cartwheels. Czerkawski officially came aboard yesterday, signing a one-year deal believed to be worth around $500,000 US.

The 33-year-old Czerkawski, the first Polish-born player to skate for the blue and white, is already used to high-flying company as Alexei Yashin's winger on Long Island, potting 25 goals in 2003-04.

He spent the lockout year playing for Djurgarden in Sweden -- coincidentally Sundin's club team -- where he had 15 goals in 49 games. In 2003-04, he scored 25 goals for the Isles.

There is also talk that Alex Steen, the Leafs' top pick in 2002 will play the left side on the line at the start of camp.

If the National Hockey League sticks to its plan to clear up obstruction, Czerkawski could be the perfect match for Sundin. But he has had trouble handling the physical abuse that goes with being a first-line player and might end up on a lower-profile unit with either centre Eric Lindros or Jason Allison.

The last item of business for general manager John Ferguson before camp starts Monday will be hearing back from winger Mike Keane on an offer to tryout as a walk-on. Ferguson could not be reached for comment last night, but he is looking for one more veteran forward. Keane last played for the Vancouver Canucks, with 17 points in 64 games in '03-04, but holds Stanley Cup rings, from the Canadiens (1993), Avalanche ('96) and Stars ('99).

But Ferguson would rather have a player such as Keane -- and defenceman Bryan Marchment, who was invited to camp yesterday -- earn their contracts, rather than be signed with no set role.


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