Baby Leafs update

By Kevin Kelly

The St. John’s Maple Leafs have fewer bodies these days as a slew of recalls by Toronto along with some injuries have hampered the team. However, the Baby Leafs have been getting some good news about its prospects.

After defenseman Brendan Bell and goalie Jamie Hodson were part of the Spengler Cup winning Team Canada squad over the Christmas season, it was announced on January 7th that Leafs leading scorer center Kyle Wellwood (a fifth round pick in 2001) and defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo (the Leafs first round pick, 17th overall, in 2001) have been named to Team Canada’s squad at the American Hockey League All-Star Classic. The game will take place on February 9th in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The 20-year-old rookie Wellwood has 30 points in 37 games for the Leafs this season, leading the team, and seven goals. Colaiacovo, also 20, is fifth overall in defensemen scoring in the AHL with 19 points in 34 games. Both players played in the OHL prior to joining the Baby Leafs.

Recalls by Toronto have decimated the Baby Leafs lineup. The one game suspension to Mats Sundin, along with injuries to Ed Belfour, Owen Nolan and Wade Belak have made the parent club make quite a few calls to the farm. Mikael Tellqvist, Wellwood, and St. John’s Leafs leading goal scorer Brad Leeb are already up in Toronto. Twenty-five-year-old rookie defenseman Pierre Hedin may also be heading up today, not Colaiacovo, who is nursing a hand injury. Add to that a hand injury to current No. 1 goalie Sebastien Centomo along with injuries to center Jeff Daw (hip), and the Baby Leafs find themselves even playing little used 22-year-old center Luca Cereda these days. Cereda, a former first round pick of the Leafs, has appeared in 17 games this season. Last night marked his first game in almost a month.

Kondratiev says farewell

To no one’s surprise locally, rookie defenseman Maxim Kondratiev has been reassigned to his former team, Lada Togliatti of the Russian League. The former sixth round pick in 2001 appeared in 18 AHL games and seven NHL games this season. He had eight points in 18 games for the Baby Leafs. Kondratiev had struggled during his time in St. John’s, as he faced language along with other barriers.