Pilar back on blades

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:20 AM ET

Karel Pilar has resumed his hockey career in his native Czech Republic and the Maple Leafs are hoping he skates right into their lineup next season.

The 28-year-old defenceman, who has been plagued by a condition known as viral myopathy (a heart virus), has joined Sparta Praha of the Czech Elite League. The club's website showed that Pilar had an assist in three games.

The Leafs had until Dec. 1 to sign Pilar, a restricted free agent. They did not get him under contract because of his health condition, which had the potential to keep him out for the entire 2005-06 season.

Leafs general manager John Ferguson said yesterday he would like to have Pilar, the 39th pick overall by Toronto in 2001, signed for next season. In 90 games with the Leafs, Pilar has 30 points.

And though the Olympic break is in full swing, there is speculation that the Leafs would not mind acquiring centre Tyler Arnason from the Chicago Blackhawks for forward Nik Antropov. The NHL trade freeze ends at midnight on Feb. 27 and the trade deadline is at 3 p.m. EST on March 9.


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