Under The Rock

By Steve Gandour

Something Erie in Guelph

This weekend, something big is going down in Guelph. And for Maple Leaf fans, they have two reasons to cheer… Brad Boyes and Carlo Colaiacovo.

This years Memorial Cup will feature the CHL playoff scoring leaders tandem of Corey Pecker and Brad Boyes. These two have absolutely lit the OHL on fire, and now look to light up the beautiful new arena in Guelph and come back with the all elusive Memorial Cup Championship.

Brad has averaged a goal a game through these playoffs, and will now have the ultimate stage to showcase his talents. His stock has already risen, and now he has a chance to give the Leafs pause by performing even better if at all possible. A good effort could result in a late call up if the Leafs make the Cup finals. However, this is still a long shot possibility.

As for Carlo, while he has not put up the dominant numbers his teammate Boyes has, he has been a much sturdier two way defenseman than he gets credit for. He still quarterbacks the power play, and with the entire junior world watching, he has a chance to show some of the spark he showed in the World Juniors.

Learning from Life’s Little Glitches

In a few weeks, it will mark a year’s passing since the now infamous fax machine debacle. That was the incident where the Leafs and Boston had agreed on a deal to send much maligned forward Jonas Hoglund to Boston for highly touted but unsigned prospect Kyle Wanvig. The deal had to be in by 5 pm EST or Wanvig would re-enter the draft as an unsigned player. Well, we all know that the deal was stopped by the Maple Leafs fax machine. Some say it was for the best, with Hoglund’s play so far in the playoffs, and Wanvig’s stock value dropping a little. Other’s say it not only made Hoglund feel unwelcome, but was an embarrassment that such a glitch could be allowed to cost the Leafs a trade. Either way, one thing is certain… the Leafs are not going to let their fax machine trip them up this year.

The Leafs did not want to risk a repeat embarrassment this year, so the top prospect in their system was signed to a multi year entry level contract a couple of months ago. Before the Leafs signed Boyes, they also locked up fellow Canadian World Junior, Jay Harrison to an entry level contract. They really liked what Jay showed at the tournament, and throughout his season in Brampton. And then just this week, the Leafs dealt forward Kris Vernarsky to Boston.

The Leaf management had to decide at some point these past two weeks if they were going to be close to signing some prospects (Vernarsky, Delisle, Metcalf) or if they were too far apart. With the deadline on June 1st to sign the players, and the draft now just over five weeks away… the Leafs decided they were too far apart with Vernarsky on a deal to risk holding on to him last minute. While Jackman has been a disappointment since leaving Dallas, kudos have to go to the Leafs for securing some return on a player they did not feel they were going to be able to sign. They are showing an awareness that last year’s biggest mistake might not have been a bad fax machine, but leaving a deal for an unsigned prospect to the last minute. What could this mean for Delisle and Metcalf. I believe that if the Leafs feel they are too far apart in negotiations, that we will hear of more deals within a week’s time. If no deals are done in the next week, that could be a great sign that these two surprises who have shot up the Leafs prospect rankings may remain in the blue and white. I hope they do, both have shown great abilities this past season, and great leadership and heart.

COAST TO COAST AND ACROSS THE POND

Kris Vernarsky (F) – Plymouth Whalers (OHL)
Kris was dealt this week to Boston for former fifth overall pick Rick Jackman. Kris could not come to terms with Leaf management… and so he was traded to Boston where he signed immediately to avoid re-entering the draft.

Pierre Hedin (D) – MoDo (SWE)
Pierre Hedin’s efforts at the World Championship drew some renewed interest within the Leaf organization. A push to try and persuade him to come to North America this summer is not only a possibility, but is very likely. The decision however ultimately will be determined by where Hedin’s head is at.