September 14, 2011
Frattin looking good at camp
By TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency
OSHAWA - The playing field is about to level for Matt Frattin.
But the 23-year-old Maple Leafs freshman couldn’t have had a better send-off to training camp as he played in all situations and shone in a 4-3 Leafs loss to the Ottawa Senators in the rookie tournament closer at the General Motors Centre.
“He clearly showed some of what he can do and I think he has more to give,” said Toronto Marlies coach Dallas Eakins, who was behind the Leafs bench. “He didn’t fall away. And it looks like he is fairly fit as well, which is encouraging.”
Frattin played the point on the power play and one-timed a shot past goalie Robin Lehner late in the second period during a man-advantage. He also killed penalties, and his smarts demonstrated why he should have a good shot at winning a spot on the Leafs’ roster when camp breaks. He played in one game for the Leafs last season.
“I have to carry my confidence on to scrimmages on Saturday,” Frattin said. “It’s a fresh start.”
Sondre Olden and Greg McKegg also scored for the Leafs.
Eakins said after the game that every player in the rookie camp has been invited to training camp. Usually, some rookies are sent home when the tournament ends.
“In the end my bosses decided to bring every guy here,” Eakins said. “When you are a draft pick, you know you are going to the main camp. Good on these tryout guys. I am proud of them. They came in and worked their butts off. Now it is special for them to go to an NHL training camp.”
Among the players who were on amateur tryouts were forwards Mitchell Heard and Kyle Neuber and defencemen Matt Stanisz, Garrett Clarke, Denny Urban, Dave Cowan and Mike Schwindt.
“They’re going to be playing against big, strong savvy men,” Eakins said of the rookies as a whole. “We’ll see what they are made of now.”
Said general manager Brian Burke, who spoke briefly to reporters: “I think there is a lot of help on the way. I am not sure how close it is yet.”
Goaltender Mark Owuya, for the most part, made a positive impression. The 6-foot-2, 198-pound Swede moves fluidly post-to-post and has a quick glove hand. In the opening shifts, Owuya picked shots by Jakub Culek and Stefan Noesen out of thin air ... Among those at the GM Centre was former Leaf Darcy Tucker, who is now a certified agent working for Carlo Sosa, the man who represented Tucker when he was in the NHL. “Believe it or not, I have a player here (Darren Kramer) and ironically he is with Ottawa,” Tucker said with a laugh. “I went from being retired to certified pretty fast. It has been a real whirlwind.” Based in Toronto, Tucker three weeks ago hired another ex-Leaf, Jeff O’Neill, to work alongside him. Leafs fans have long memories: Tucker was mobbed by fans during the first-period intermission ... There are more than a few hockey observers who think the rookie tournaments are a waste of time. Some see the fighting that happens at these events as unnecessary, which is true (in fact, fighting in these events should be banned). But no matter how many people may or may not be in the stands, and no matter how many of these players might actually play in the NHL one day, the tournaments are valuable tools for each organization. “I’m not sure who will (advance from this team to the Leafs),” Eakins said. “Maybe a Frattin, or a (Jake) Gardiner, or a (Jesse) Blacker. This is the start of it, the process of finding what we are going to have to do with these guys in the future to make them good pros.” ... Sub-par performances at rookie tournaments are not always indicators of what’s to come. Luke Schenn did not play well at his rookie camp in 2008.
From the hash marks
Not that there was a personal hatchet to bury, but Stuart Percy and Blacker have forgotten about being intense hockey foes last spring. Blacker’s Owen Sound Attack beat Percy’s Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors in seven games in the Ontario Hockey League final in May. When the Leafs prospects arrived for the team’s mini-camp in July, their lockers were beside each other. “We introduced ourselves and he was an easy guy to get along with,” Percy said. “What happens on the ice stays on the ice.” Their junior coaches, Mark Reeds and Dave Cameron, now are working together as assistants on the Senators’ coaching staff ... David Broll’s wrist injury, which occurred in the second game, kept him out of the Toronto lineup ... No less than 13 of the players who participated in the tournament for Toronto were drafted by the Leafs, and it would have been 14 had forward Jerry D’Amigo not been nursing a back injury, under the watch of director of amateur scouting Dave Morrison. “What I’m really encouraged to see is the competitiveness,” Morrison said. “We made a concerted effort here the last few years to get competitors, to draft kids who want to make a difference in a game and play with a lot of heart and passion. What I’ve seen with this team is exactly what we hoped we were getting. I like the smattering of skilled players and (those with) a lot of character.”