Time For Farkas (And Others) To Show What They Can Do
This summer, Maple Leafs fans everywhere have witnessed a dramatic alteration of the team’s line-up, hopefully for the better. Still, one wonders how much youth from St. John’s will be able to obtain full time jobs when this September’s training camp concludes. In the end, many believe that at least one or two new faces from the farm system will be able to grab a permanent roster spot with the big club.
Let’s examine some facts. We all know a first unit comprised of Roberts, Sundin and Renberg is a lock. The second line will consist of Reichel and Mogilny with Nik Antropov probably being a good candidate for the opening on the left side. The third line will probably consist of newly acquired centre Travis Green, Shayne Corson (who’s a stellar role player and provides valuable leadership to the team) along with Shayne’s brother-in-law, Darcy Tucker. The latter will provide speed, physical play and ample grit.
There are probably as many as 2 openings on the 4th line with Tie Domi having been suspended for the first 8 games of the season. Jonas Hoglund, will most probably be traded before October arrives due to his ineffectiveness during the playoffs and his overall inconsistency. This might allow a player like Jeff Farkas to finally receive some well deserved exposure at the NHL level. The last opening on the 4th line will most probably go to Alyn McCauley, who has had his progress stalled due to various injuries in the past. A 4th line consisting of Jeff Farkas, Alyn McCauley along with the reliable Garry Valk is what might materialize come opening night. It’s also possible that another youngster, perhaps someone like Alexei Ponikarovsky, might crack the roster as the extra forward.
On defense, it seems that the Leafs have made it very difficult, if not impossible, for the up-and-coming defensemen to gain a shot at the big club. After acquiring Anders Eriksson through free agency and signing him to a sizable contract, Toronto now has the big Swede, Kaberle (assuming he will eventually sign a new contract), McCabe, Manson, Berg, Yushkevich, Cross, Pilar, Dempsey and Belak already fighting for the 7 or 8 spots available. Unfortunately, that leaves Petr Svoboda, Christian Chartier and Alan Rourke with a very slim chance of making the team. That is, unless one or more the players with prior NHL experience is dispatched from the Toronto blueline prior to the regular season.
Lastly, in goal, Mikael Tellqvist seems poised to finally show everyone in Toronto that the Leafs’ management has already acquired their netminder of the future. It will be interesting to see how well Tellqvist will perform as Cujo’s back-up in 2001/2002.
The upcoming season may offer great promise for the future if some new faces can make the jump to the Leafs’ NHL roster. Let’s all hope that this will happen this year (and every year) in order to ensure the future success of the Blue and White.