Interesting times for Leafs' prospects

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:59 PM ET

These are interesting times for those who scout junior hockey for the Maple Leafs in this part of the world.

This year’s No. 1 pick Nazem Kadri is on fire of course for the London Knights and for the first time in years, the club has a couple of prospects at forward doing well in the Quebec Major Junior League, Philippe Paradis and Joel Champagne.

And you had to arrive early on Sunday to see 2007’s first pick Dale Mitchell in action Sunday against Kitchener after his perceived lack of effort riled Windsor Spitfires’ coach Bob Boughner so much he pulled Mitchell and teammate Mark Cundari off the ice and sent them home.

Kadri has 38 points in 28 games and is trying out for the national junior team. If successful, it would be invaluable experience for next season when it’s expected he’ll be trying out as Phil Kessel’s centre in Toronto.

Paradis, a first-rounder this year, 27th overall, acquired from Carolina for Jiri Tlusty, has 22 points in 30 games for Shawinigan.

“He’s a big guy who likes to finish his check, which is what we like,” said Dave Morrison, director of amateur scouting for the Leafs. “He’s more of a power forward, but he has got good straightaway speed and a lot to work with. He goes to the front of the net hard on the power play.

“He has another year of junior and we’ll see where it goes.”

Champagne was a mid-round pick from last year, whose 39 points in 33 games was spiked with a seven-point day for the P.E.I. Rocket in early December.

“We’d been working with him on his skating and had envisioned him as a defensive forward,” Morrison said. “But now a he’s a top 20 scorer in the league. He has had to learn how to use his body. He has a big (final) year of junior ahead.

“I’ve said it before, it doesn’t matter where players are from, as far as we’re concerned.”

The Mitchell incident should blow over. But Boughner was steamed at his play and defenceman Cundari’s after falling to a 3-1 deficit to Kitchener with his lineup already missing five players at various world junior championship camps. Mitchell and Cundari were acting up on the ice and during the second intermission, Boughner ordered them to remove their sweaters and go home.

“I’d just had enough of watching them,” Boughner told the Windsor Star. “I was disgusted in both of their efforts. I just hit a boiling point and told them to get out of here and go home.”

Boughner indicated off-ice disciplinary issues played a role in his decision.

lance.hornby@sunmedia.ca


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