Leafs: Tellqvist and Lindros Update

By Randy Nicholson

Mikael Tellqvist Update

Mikael Tellqvist (Djurgarden, Sweden) – The Leafs clearly felt a need to replenish the goaltending ranks during this draft and actually selected two of them in Round 3 (see J-F Racine below). The selection of Tellqvist was a major surprise in that he was completely overlooked in the final CSB rankings. This much is known about him; he missed the World Junior Tourney because of injury, he is already 20 years old and he played sparingly yet strongly in the Swedish Elite League during this past season. Given Toronto’s recent ability to uncover unknown gems in Europe (Markov, Kaberle, Berezin, Antropov etc.), I wouldn’t bet against this guy.

Mr. Tellqvist’s representative, Mr. Michael Deutch, was kind enough to supply me with the following facts that will be of great interest to all Maple Leaf fans.

·Mikael did miss the 1999 WJC due to a fractured skull but he recovered quite quickly and now feels no ill side effects from the injury.

·This past season Mikael became the number one netminder in Djurgarden, supplanting former NHLer Tommy Soderstrom. Djurgarden won the Swedish championship, due in no small part to Mikael’s performance in goal. He played every game.

·Following the end of the Swedish season, Mikael was selected to back-up Tommy Salo of the Oilers’ at the World Championship Tournament in St. Petersburg, where he played in one game.

·Mikael was unranked by CSB because he is now 21 years old – Central Scouting does not include players over the age of 20 in their rankings.

·Mikael posted an outstanding GAA during the regular season of 2.22 and a miniscule 1.55 during the league playoffs.

Special thanks to Mr. Michael Deutch for supplying this information.

Lindros Update (June 28th)

This story has developed very rapidly during the past couple of days.

First, before engaging in any speculation regarding Eric’s playing future, let me begin by saying that it is my sincere hope that he returns to good health very soon and is in no way convinced to take an ill advised chance simply in order to continue his brilliant career. I’m certain that all true hockey fans share these sentiments.

That said, there have been a number of developments during the past 24 hours that only strengthen my belief that Eric Lindros’ next game in the NHL will be in a Maple Leafs uniform.

Here’s what we know:

·Although 3 (or possibly 5) teams have been granted permission by the Flyers to discuss contract with Eric, the Lindros camp is indicating no great desire to discuss financial matters at this time, quite rightly preferring to concentrate instead on Eric’s health.

·Given this situation, there will be no club (yes including Toronto) that would be inclined to part with anything of value in exchange for Eric’s rights at this time.

·With the possibility of a quick trade now all but gone, the ball has returned to Mr. Clarke’s side of the net. By Saturday, he must either offer his star almost $9,000,000 US or set him free. To make a qualifying offer at this level under these circumstances would take a great deal of nerve indeed. Relations between player and team are by now so strained that Eric would surely be tempted to accept the offer and then sit out the 2000/2001 campaign (with the support of his medical advisors) while regaining full health. Under this “doomsday” scenario, the Flyers would be $9M poorer, still without their former captain a similar situation all over again next summer.

·So let’s assume for a moment that cooler heads will prevail in Philadelphia and the Flyers will walk away from Lindros. Now Eric, whenever he felt physically able, could cut his own deal wherever he wished to play. He may even be persuaded to accept an incentive laden deal in order to be in the situation of his choice. For their part, the Leafs have shown great patience with injured players – previously with Alyn McCauley and currently with Bryan Berard. At the risk of sounding a bit mushy, there is a definite air of humanity in the Leaf organization (perhaps instilled by Ken Dryden’s calm and thoughtful leadership) that is clearly missing in Philadelphia these days.

·While the hockey department at the ACC adopts a “wait and see” posture (just as it should), upper management has already successfully delivered a clear message to the Lindros camp. By saying publicly that the necessary funds will be made available (irrespective of established budgets) should both sides get together at some point in the future, the door into Toronto in now wide open.

Those in the know insist that the Maple Leafs intend to make a strong statement in the UFA market this summer similar to the one made 2 years ago (Joseph, Thomas). Wouldn’t a healthy and spiritually refreshed Eric Lindros provide a grand start to this process?

Stay tuned for further developments in this story. I’ll be back in a day or two with a free agency preview from a Toronto perspective.