Prospect news and notes

By Randy Nicholson

News from Sweden: A brief update regarding Mikael Tellqvist’s progress this week followed by some news on a lesser known Leafs’ prospect currently playing in Sweden … at the beginning of the week, Djurgarden’s head coach Nilsson announced that he will be utilizing his back-up goalie more often in upcoming games … Djurgarden remains comfortably atop the SEL and Nilsson would like to have his #1 stopper well rested for the play-off grind that is now just around the corner … Tellqvist is also expected to play for the Swedish National Team at the Swedish Hockey games in mid February and so some extra days off would be well advised … Mikael, meanwhile, was solid in a 4-2 victory against Timra … it was tough game for Tellqvist in terms of concentration as there were many long periods when he did not see any action at all … in his second appearance the week, Tellqvist led his team to a hard-fought 4-3 victory over Malmo … this time, Mikael stopped 26 of 29 shots but his defensemen ably cleared almost every second attempt … The Maple Leafs actually have a second prospect playing in the SEL … Pierre Hedin was selected by Toronto in the 8th round of the 1999 Entry Draft … Hedin has been playing for MoDo, a very good hockey team in northern Sweden with very long tradition and glorious past, since 1997/98 season … Pierre is a solid defenceman, perhaps No. 2 on his team … he is very good defensively and yet able to produce some offence as well … although somewhat prone to commit giveaways when caught up ice on the attack, Hedin is a workhorse and plays more than 20 minutes per game … Pierre’s personal statistics are significantly lower this season as MoDo has adopted a more defensive style of play following the loss of the Sedin twins to the Vancouver Canucks of the NHL … Hedin appears on the power play unit but he is far more adept at penalty killing, which is perhaps his best skill … this year Hedin has also begun to utilize his size (6´1´´, 195 LB) more effectively and has accumulated 57 penalty minutes – more than his total from the two previous seasons combined … Pierre is considered to be a core player for the MoDo hockey club … though he certainly deserves an invitation to attend training camp with the Maple Leafs, it is uncertain that he could make the NHL roster at this time … perhaps further seasoning in Sweden will alter this prognosis … next month Hedin will turn 23 years old …

Prospect news: Brad Boyes (following an altogether unsuccessful trip to Russia with the Canadian National Junior Team) continues to lead the rampaging Erie Otters of the OHL … Brad has now amassed 61 points (36 goals and 25 assists) in only 34 games … he has, however, slipped to 5th in league scoring due to his WJC sojourn … Ottawa’s Jonathan Zion has slowed down slightly but is still second among OHL defensemen with 51 points (14 goals and 37 assists) in 43 games … Zion’s Ottawa team mate Miguel Delisle has really picked up his game lately and now has 40 points (21 goals and 19 assists) in 38 games … more importantly, Delisle is looking more and more like a burgeoning power forward every week … over in the QMJHL, Rouyn-Noranda’s Sebastien Centomo was the Goaltender of the Month in December as the acrobatic veteran fully capitalized on team mate Maxime Ouellet’s trip to Russia with the Canadian Juniors … out in St. John’s, defender Nathan Dempsey (a standout at the recent AHL All-Star Game) continues to shine and will be counted upon even more heavily now that fellow blueliner DJ Smith will miss 4-6 weeks of action with a broken ankle … finally, Providence freshman defender Regan Kelly continues to display a poise and confidence that belies his brief NCAA tenure … Kelly has 14 points (1 goal and 13 assists) in 18 games and has posted a team best +8 for the Friars …

Prospect thumbnail – Allan Rourke (D): Rourke was the sixth round (154th overall) selection by the Maple Leafs at the 1998 Entry Draft … expectations for Allan (as with all 6th round picks) were modest but something extraordinary took hold of the rangy rearguard last season … following strict adherence to the development program prescribed for him by the Toronto organization, Rourke blossomed during his final junior season in Kitchener – producing a whopping 31 goals and 74 points … this season in St. John’s, Allan was expected to provide depth (and possibly to spend some time in the ECHL) but has again surprised many by claiming a regular spot on the blueline for the Baby Leafs … Rourke’s 2000/2001 offensive output has been moderate (34-4-6-10) but his steady defensive play has far surpassed all expectations … blessed with mobility and ideal NHL size (6-1 215), Allan’s performance so far this season has again caused him vault up several positions on the Maple Leafs’ prospects list …

Many thanks to European corespondent, Jan Buben, for his weekly updates from Sweden and elsewhere.