Tlusty pegged for AHL

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:51 AM ET

Jiri Tlusty's junior hockey rights belong to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, but the Maple Leafs organization does not expect him to stray that far north.

"Hopefully right here," Toronto Marlies general manager Mike Penny said yesterday when asked where he expects Tlusty to play this season. "Coming from the league he was in, he has a good solid chance to make the (Marlies). I would be surprised if he is not part of this team."

Tlusty, 18, was the 13th pick overall by the Leafs in the NHL entry draft in June and signed a three-year pact in July. In 44 games last season with Kladno of the Czech Elite League, the centre had seven goals and three assists. Not huge numbers, but not bad considering he was playing with men. Tlusty is a long shot to make the Leafs.

Tlusty and another top Leafs prospect, goalie Justin Pogge, were at Ricoh Coliseum in advance of a rookie tournament there this weekend featuring the Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Florida Panthers and York University.

Neither Marlies coach Greg Gilbert nor Pogge thought Tlusty would take long to get a grasp of English.

"I'm giving him a month or two and he will be chirping guys," Pogge said.

GOING CAMPING?

Matt Stajan remains without a contract and camp begins in a week, but he does not foresee a problem.

"I don't think there is an issue of missing camp," he said. "If it's a one-year deal, I am satisfied with that. In a perfect world, long-term would be good. It's not like I am looking for a blockbuster."

BRIEFLY

The Marlies announced yesterday a new hockey development program called The Goal is Fun, designed to give minor hockey players a chance to hone their skills. The program will hit more than 80 rinks this winter.


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