COLUMBUS — The Jiri Tlusty experiment in Toronto finally has run its course.
Apparently frustrated at the former first-round draft pick’s inability to produce at the NHL level, the Maple Leafs have given up on the 21-year-old Czech. Leafs general manager Brian Burke dealt the unproductive winger to the Carolina Hurricanes Thursday for another former first-round pick, Philippe Paradis.
“(Tlusty) did not seem to be able to (perform) despite repeated opportunities in a Leaf uniform,” Burke said Thursday night. “Carolina came after him hard and we like the player they put in play for him so we pulled the trigger.”
Selected 13th overall in the first round in 2006, Tlusty consistently failed to translate his promise into scoring ability during any of his frequent callups from the AHL Marlies to the Leafs.
During his minor-league career, Tlusty had 103 points in 105 games. In 76 NHL games — including two this season — he had 10 goals and 10 assists and a suspect minus-12 rating.
In Paradis, the Leafs acquire Carolina’s top pick from this past June’s NHL entry draft. The 18-year-old is a centre playing in the Quebec Major Junior League for Shawinigan. The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder seems more of a fit to Burke’s style.
“Regardless of where he was picked, we like him,” Burke said. “He’s a power forward who represents an element that maybe we’re lacking.
“He’s a guy that can skate, go to the night and is belligerent and truculent and all the things I like.”
For the Hurricanes, the move was attractive because management felt they were getting a player who could provide some immediate benefit.
“We want to accelerate the stage our prospects are in,” Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford told Sun Media’s Mike Zeisberger. “We feel Jiri can play up here now, if not soon. Philippe, we feel, is still probably two or three years away.
“Secondly, between the two players, Tlusty has a bit more up side from a skill level. Philippe is more of a power forward.”