Suglobov has no defence

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:13 AM ET

There is no "D" in Suglobov.

That's the problem.

Sure, young Aleksander Suglobov has produced some electrifying highlight-reel moments throughout training camp, including a blistering snapshot goal in the Maple Leafs 5-3 pre-season loss to the Ottawa Senators last night at the Air Canada Centre.

But this is not shinny. If that's the way you want to play, go find a frozen pond.

Under Paul Maurice's system, accountability at both ends is crucial for a youngster attempting to stick with the parent club.

"Offensively it's gone OK," said Suglobov, who is tied with defenceman Andy Wozniewski for the Leafs pre-season lead in scoring with five points. "But Paul had some questions for me about my forechecking and my (defensive) zone coverage.

"I'm still making turnovers. In the NHL every turnover can cost you the game.

"It's not about the goals right now. I'm trying to learn the system right now and not let the other teams create scoring chances in our end.(Maurice's) system isn't easy and I think a lot of us are still in the same boat."

Suglobov, acquired from the New Jersey Devils at the trade deadline last March, is on a one-way deal, leading some observers to feel he is a good bet to make the roster.

But Maurice still has concerns, a fact that became quite clear when he was asked if Suglobov is "NHL ready."

"Not yet," Maurice responded. "I don't think any of our young guys get that label in camp."

Despite the holes in his game, the offensively-gifted Suglobov feels he is ready for prime time.

"I'm 24 years old, I've played three years in the minors and I'm poised to take that next step," he said. "Hopefully I will make it."

At least Suglobov could be pleased with the fact that he was selected as the game's third star.

For Jeff O'Neill, it was a much more depressing night.

The veteran forward was benched in the latter half of the game and ended up receiving just 8:45 of ice time. Among the forwards, only Kris Newbury and Wade Belak, O'Neill's linemates on this night, had less.

Young defenceman Ian White, one of the better performers throughout camp, had problems of his own, finishing at minus-two and struggling at times in his own end.


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