The Maple Leafs locked up a potentially large piece of their future last night.
Goalie Justin Pogge, who will start for Canada at the 2006 world junior hockey championship, has signed a three-year entry-level contract. Pogge likely will face another Leafs goaltending prospect, 2005 first-rounder Tuukka Rask of Finland, on Monday in Canada's first game.
"We're pleased with both," Leafs general manager John Ferguson said. "Moreso than that, potentially in Justin's case, it's where he is today and where he will be. We hope he continues the trend he is on."
Pogge is 22-5 with a 1.53 goals-against average and six shutouts with the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League.
Ed Belfour took Pogge under his wing when Pogge trained with him in the summer. When Pogge made the world junior team, both Belfour and Mikael Tellqvist called to congratulate him.
"He's a great kid," Belfour said. "He has a great work ethic and attitude and I'll do all I can to help him out."
KLEE GETS A VACATION
Leafs defenceman Ken Klee, a native of Indianapolis who makes his off-season home near Denver, was not named to the U.S. Olympic roster.
Though Klee was not bothered by his omission -- the break in February will let him rest and he will spend the time with his wife and three young boys -- he was happy to learn Chris Chelios, who will be 44 in January, was named to the U.S. team.
"He has been a warrior for a long time," Klee said. "He's one of a kind. He is a guy who can have fun with the boys like he is 20."
CARLO ABIDES WITH DECISION
Jason Spezza of the Ottawa Senators will not be suspended for one game after incurring an instigating penalty against the Leafs' Carlo Colaiacovo in the final five minutes of Ottawa's 8-2 win on Saturday.
"I am not going to say I am disappointed," Colaiacovo said. "The league looked at it and made the decision and I am not going to criticize or comment badly on it."
POHL GETS CALL
Rookie John Pohl made his Leafs debut last night, playing eight minutes 59 seconds. Pohl replaced Alex Steen, who is day to day because of a right thumb injury.