Newest Maple Leaf itching for action

Joffrey Lupul takes part in a Philadelphia Flyers team practice at Rexall Place. (David Bloom/QMI...

Joffrey Lupul takes part in a Philadelphia Flyers team practice at Rexall Place. (David Bloom/QMI AGENCY)

ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:28 PM ET

The newest Maple Leaf feels he has something to prove and can’t wait to get the chance to do it.

That opportunity arrives for forward Joffrey Lupul as soon as Thursday night after being dealt to the Leafs in a trade that sends veteran defenceman Francois Beauchemin to Anaheim.

As is his way, Leafs general manager Brian Burke didn’t wait until the Feb. 28 trade deadline to get busy, announcing the deal shortly after noon on Wednesday. There is speculation more deals are in the works.

In Lupul, the Leafs get a forward who has scored more than 20 goals three times in his career, including a career high 28 in the 2005-06 season. Plagued by back problems the past two seasons in Anaheim, he has just five goals and eight assists in 26 games with the Ducks this season.

“I definitely have a lot to prove and I’m looking forward to getting the opportunity,” the 27-year-old winger said from Vancouver where the Ducks meet the Canucks Wednesday. “I know that my best hockey is still ahead of me and I think there’s a lot I can bring to the team.

“I still feel 100% I can take my game to the next level.”

He’ll get that chance right out of the gate. Leafs coach Ron Wilson said he plans to debut Lupul on a line with Clarke MacArthur and Tyler Bozak. Lupul says he feels fit and healthy but wasn’t getting the chance to show it in Anaheim.

“We’ve been looking for goal scoring, both inside and out and an opportunity to pick up Joffrey Lupul presented itself,” Wilson said. “We think that we’re deep enough as an organization to give up a player like (Beauchemin), who’s played well for us and who was a leader on and off the ice.

"We need to score more goals and giving Lupul an opportunity, he should be able to help us offensively."

Included in the deal is defenceman Jake Gardiner, a puck-moving defenceman for the University of Wisconsin who Burke drafted in the first round for the Ducks in 2008. Also coming Toronto’s way is a conditional fourth-round pick.

Popular in the Leafs’ dressing room, Beauchemin was a steady, stay-at-home defenceman who chewed up many minutes, often against the opposition’s top forward line. The Leafs will call up another blueliner from the Marlies to take his roster spot.

“I was kind of expecting something to happen with all the rumours that were out there,” said Beauchemin, who returns to the Ducks team he left as a free agent in the summer of 2009. “I loved it here. I just wish I could have helped the team get to the playoffs.”

In another possible move to clear roster space, the Leafs put forward John Mitchell on waivers on Wednesday.

rob.longley@sunmedia.ca


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