September 10, 2006
Leafs to keep three 'keepers?Ferguson hints trio of goalies could stick
By LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun
No math whiz need apply themselves too hard on the Maple Leafs organization's goaltending equation.
There potentially are four qualified stoppers vying for only three worthy jobs (No. 1 and back-up with the Leafs, starter for the Marlies) and someone is going to be in a snit on the farm team bench or the press box.
But general manager John Ferguson seems to like a good mesh-mash, even if it lasts through October.
"We could carry three goalies at the start," Ferguson hinted during the Leafs rookie tournament at Ricoh Coliseum. "Certainly it's not unheard of in the National Hockey League. You knock on wood that there won't be an injury that makes the decision for you, but we could end up with three at the start and let things work themselves out."
When talking of a trio, Ferguson was mostly referring to projected No. 1 Andrew Raycroft and last year's season-ending tandem of Jean-Sebastien Aubin and Mikael Tellqvist. But he is not backing off an old promise to let hot prospect Justin Pogge stay at the main camp as long as his performance merits it.
"There are no limitations on him," Ferguson said, though he ruled out wasting the 20-year-old junior star's development year as a Leafs understudy.
Pogge's Leaf debut came in a 6-5 overtime win over the Montreal Canadiens in Friday's opener of the rookie tournament and he'll finish against the Florida Panthers tomorrow in the 4 p.m. final.
The in expensive Tellqvist and Aubin could be accommodated with free agent Raycroft under the $44-million US cap, but an early season rotation would expose one of those two to the trade market. Aubin certainly created a stir at the end of last season when he replaced an injured Ed Belfour and the confidence-challenged Tellqvist in a streak of 9-0-2 that nearly salvaged a playoff spot. Tellqvist was never the same after back-to-back losses in Montreal put Toronto in a deep rut.
ROOKIES WIN AGAIN
Brent Aubin says he wants to "force" the Leafs to give him a two-way contract with his play in his second rookie training camp and so far he's a man of his word.
The unsigned Quebec junior sniper now has seven points in two games after the Leafs freshmen blasted York University 7-0 last night at Ricoh to improve to 2-0 in the tournament.
Aubin is playing right wing on an explosive line with No. 1 draft pick Jiri Tlusty and Marlies' John Mitchell, trailing only Mitchell for the tourney lead in points.
"I worked hard all summer for this chance," Aubin said.
Marlie coach Greg Gilbert is highly impressed with how the Czech Tlusty has adapted to the North American pace.
"I'd like to see him shoot more, but maybe he's trying to fit in with the guys and be a set-up man," Gilbert said.
The Panthers lost 5-1 to the Habs earlier yesterday to put both teams at 1-1. Mitchell, scored twice for the Leafs last night with Aubin, Tlusty, Hunter Tremblay, Robbie Earl and Luke Fulghum piling on for the Leafs. James Reimer of the WHL Red Deer Rebels stopped 20 for the shutout.
Jim Hughes has been named Gilbert's assistant coach with the Marlies, joining incumbent Joe Paterson. Hughes was formerly coach of the AHL Manchester Monarchs ... Matt Stajan still hasn't signed with the Leafs, though Ferguson echoes Stajan's belief that a deal will be done by Thursday's camp opener.