Steen locked up by Leafs

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:30 AM ET

Alex Steen is no stranger to all this trade frenzy.

In the summer of 2006, the young forward was said to be the sticking point in a deal that reportedly would have included him in a package with Tomas Kaberle for disgruntled Edmonton Oilers defenceman Chris Pronger.

By showing their reluctance to trade him, the Leafs apparently had faith in the potential of Steen.

They still do, and showed it yesterday by inking him to a two-year extension worth $1.7 million US per season, thereby locking up a key 23-year-old building block in the process.

"Obviously, it's great to be a Leaf for another couple of years," Steen said last night. "I know we've had a tough couple of years, but I want to be here when we turn things around."

Steen, the son of former Winnipeg Jets star Thomas Steen, has not played in a playoff game as a Leaf. But he did get a taste of just how post-season fever grips this city when he attended a Leafs-Philadelphia Flyers playoff series prior to the lockout.

"It was amazing," he said. "I went to a couple of the home games and the atmosphere was awesome. There were people driving up and down Yonge St., horns honking.

"I want to be part of something like that. I want to help bring back that feeling here."

Steen has shown flashes of brilliance during his young career and, while his lack of consistency has driven the team's brass bonkers at times, he is the type of prospect interim general manager Cliff Fletcher would like to stockpile in the organization, given his age and his upside.

"This is such a great place to play," Steen said. "You are in an atmosphere where everyone lives and breathes hockey. That's special."

As for the seemingly endless media circus at trade deadline time, Steen said it is part of the deal of playing in Toronto.

"That goes hand in hand with the interest people have in the team," said Steen, whose Leafs meet the Atlanta Thrashers at the Air Canada Centre tonight. "Inside the room, we still feel we have a chance at (the playoffs). We haven't given up."

Steen, the 24th overall pick in the 2002 entry draft, has 106 points in 213 career games.


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