The Maple Leafs should learn soon whether they have won the Fabian Brunnstrom sweepstakes.
"There are two or three teams on his short list and we are one of them," Leafs assistant general manager Jeff Jackson said last night from Dallas as he travelled to San Antonio for the Marlies' American Hockey League playoff series.
"We're right in the mix and have as good a chance as anyone else of signing him."
The 23-year-old Brunnstrom is a late bloomer. He had nine goals and 28 assists in 54 games this season as a rookie with Farjestads of the Swedish Elite League.
At 6-foot-1, 203 pounds, Brunnstrom has drawn comparisons to various forwards, including Marian Hossa and Daniel Alfredsson.
Other clubs that have been hot on Brunnstrom's tail include the Detroit Red Wings and the Vancouver Canucks.
The Canucks were the frontrunners but that changed when general manager Dave Nonis was fired last week.
The Dallas Stars, Anaheim Ducks, Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers have been linked to the forward.
Jackson, who has been in talks with J.P. Barry, Brunnstrom's agent, figured Brunnstrom will make his decision by May 1.
Brunnstrom is expected to make an impact in the NHL in 2008-09. If the Leafs get him, it could be seen as a positive first step out of the dark days that have plagued the club for three non-playoff years.
Of course, Brunnstrom is not yet proven either.
"What we're selling is opportunity (to play with the Leafs)," Jackson said.