The three Canadian junior leagues are in full swing, and the Maple Leafs are once again represented by a solid group of prospects throughout the country. Here’s the first installment of the Maple Leafs prospect update for the 2003-04 season.
Sagat settling in nicely in Kootenay
After making a big splash at the Leafs Kitchener training camp in September, Martin Sagat has continued his solid play with the Kootenay Ice in his debut WHL season. The gangly left winger has earned top line duties with his responsible two-way play and his competitive nature. Kootenay coach Cory Clouston has been very impressed with Sagat’s play thus far.
“So far Martin has played very well,” Clouston said yesterday. “He has played on one of our top two lines, mostly with Nigel Dawes and Adam Taylor.”
Sagat hasn’t been able to score his first goal yet this season, but Clouston isn’t worried about that, and has been delighted with the excellent all-around game Sagat has contributed thus far.
“He’s had a bit of bad luck around the net, but he does a lot of the little things very well. He plays physical and he’s good in the corners. He’s also done a very good job on the penalty kill, and also played some power play.”
Sagat has also had a seamless transition to North American culture. Clouston has been very impressed with Sagat’s grasp of the English language and his personality.
“He’s been excellent. He speaks English very well. He’s just an excellent kid who works real hard and has a great attitude. You couldn’t ask for anything more in terms of him being a team guy.”
Unfortunately, Sagat has run into a bit of injury problems already this season, and has had to sit out the last few games with a shoulder injury. Clouston figures he should have the young winger back in the line-up by the weekend.
“He partially separated his shoulder and had a little bit of tendonitis in there. He’s missed the last two or three games. We hope he’ll be ready to go this weekend.”
Coach Clouston on Marsh
The Ice, without the services of Sagat, beat the Vancouver Giants last Friday 5-2, to keep pace in what has quickly become a very competitive B.C division in the WHL’s Western Conference. Maple Leafs’ prospect and Giants captain and defenseman Tyson Marsh was the third star of the game, and made a good impression on Clouston.
“He’s a very solid defenseman who has pretty good size. He is a physical defenseman who works hard and plays strong defensive hockey”
D’Amour on Top of the CHL
The Gatineau Olympiques (14-2-2-0) remain in the number one position in the BMO Bank of Montreal CHL Top 10 Rankings for the third straight week after wins over the Val d’Or Foreurs and Shawinigan Cataractes. Dominic D’Amour has been one of the team’s pleasant surprises this season, displaying a surprising offensive touch early in the season with 10 points in 11 games. D’Amour has also been playing the physical brand of defensive hockey that he is most well known for, tallying 47 penalty minutes already this season.
Other Maple Leafs prospects in the Top Ten include Marsh’s Vancouver Giants club at the number five spot, and John Mitchell’s Plymouth Whalers at number nine.
White out with broken ankle
The Swift Current Broncos were handed a severe blow on Tuesday night when they lost star defenseman Ian White in the team’s contest against the Prince George Cougars. White will be out of action for six to eight weeks with a fractured ankle that was suffered in the second period of the Broncos 3-2 victory. This season, White has played 11 games with 2 goals and 6 assists for 8 points and 8 penalty minutes. In 2002/03, he was a member of the Canadian National Junior team that won the silver medal at the World Juniors, and he was a First Team WHL Eastern Conference All-Star.
White should be able to return in time for the training camp for Canada’s 2004 national junior team, although any setbacks in his recovery may force him to miss this year’s tournament. He is one of only three players who are eligable to return from last year’s squad (Guelph’s Dan Paille and Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury are the others).
Williams to face off against Russians
The Western Hockey League announced today that Swift Current forward Jeremy Williams will be part of a Team WHL that will represent the league in a 2-game exhibition series with the Russian Selects in the Re/Max Canada Russia Challenge Series. The Challenge, which replaces the Hershey Cup All-Star Series, takes place on November 26 in Calgary and November 27 in Brandon. Performances in this series will largely determine who gets invited to Team Canada’s final evaluation camp for the World Junior Championship in December.
Williams, who was the Broncos Molson Player of the Year last season, has played 11 games this season with 4 goals and 10 assists for 14 points and 20 penalty minutes. He was a seventh round draft choice of the Toronto Maple Leafs at the NHL Entry Draft this past spring.
“I’m honored to be named to a team involving the best players in the WHL,” commented Williams in a press release, “I’m looking forward to the challenge of facing the Russians.”
Ian White was also named to the team, but will be unable to participate due to his ankle injury.
Here’s a statistical look at how the Leafs North American-based juniors have fared so far this season.
|Jeremy Williams||Swift Current Broncos (WHL)||11||4||10||14||20|
|John Mitchell||Plymouth Whalers (OHL)||11||6||5||11||12|
|Dominic D’Amour||Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)||11||4||6||10||47|
|Ian White||Swift Current Broncos (WHL)||12||2||6||8||12|
|Shaun Landolt||Calgary Hitmen (WHL)||11||2||4||6||6|
|Tyson Marsh||Vancouver Giants (WHL)||12||1||4||5||24|
|Martin Sagat||Kootenay Ice (WHL)||8||0||4||4||6|
|Todd Ford||Prince George Cougars (WHL)||11||2-8-1||3.37||0.885||0|