Wilm battles the odds

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:19 AM ET

Should Clarke Wilm make the Maple Leafs, there will be an added bonus awaiting him.

The hard-working journeyman winger needs just five more NHL appearances in order for his pension to kick in.

"It would be nice to get, but I'm not really worried about it," Wilm, 28, said yesterday. "I just want to come in here and stick and, hopefully, help this team win the Stanley Cup."

It won't be an easy road, however.

While Wilm gives coach Pat Quinn a tough, gritty competitor who will accept a limited role on the fourth line and can kill penalties, he is battling for a roster spot with aging veteran Steve Thomas and young guns such as Kyle Wellwood and Alexander Steen.

Steen is being given every opportunity to make the team, while Wellwood and Thomas both scored in last night's game against the Montreal Canadiens at the Air Canada Centre.

"I see myself as an energy guy, a physical guy who can kill penalties, win draws in our own end," Wilm said. "I think there will be a spot for me when all is said and done."

"Do you take young guys and let them grow, or do you take the middle-age vet like Clarke who you know can do the job?"Quinn said."That's what you have to weigh."

"A guy like Clarke, he's a vet who's been around. He can give you good minutes, yet understands there will be times he won't play much."

ROAD WARRIORS

Quinn plans to bring 31 players on the road for back-to-back games this weekend in Montreal and Ottawa.

The Leafs brass will use the trip to closely monitor players auditioning for roster spots.

The team likely will make significant cuts early next week after returning home.

"Ideally, I'd like to have it down to five lines and eight defencemen by that time," Quinn said.


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