*Sunday Morning Update: Nothing ground-breaking here, but Fletcher told me via e-mail this morning that there were no new developments in Friday’s meeting between himself, Mats Sundin and agent J.P Barry. “Mats is going to take his time.” It’s expected that Fletcher clarified his position by reaffirming that Sundin was welcome back, with a reported $7 million, 1 year deal still on the table. Alex Tran will be checking in with his first blog sometime today.
-With two other highly-coveted defensemen out of the 2008 draft class – Alex Pietrangelo and Zach Bogosian – both signing entry-level deals with their respective teams, one has to wonder when Leafs‘ 5th overall pick Luke Schenn will put pen to paper. Cliff Fletcher suggests there is still no hurry in getting Luke Schenn under contract in that it’s “not necessarily” his next focus.
-The new-look line-up will at least go unchanged from now through to pre-season. Specifically speaking to the crowded Leafs‘ blue-line, Cliff suggested “we will wait until we have a chance to evaluate preseason games” before he alleviates the log-jam of NHL-ready defenseman currently on the roster.”
Rumours persist that the Leafs will look to recover their relinquished pick in the Bryan McCabe deal by peddling defenseman Ian White, a player who doesn’t seem to fit the Ron Wilson mold, in exchange for a mid-level draft pick. White’s performance during pre-season will likely be the determining factor after Wilson can make a true assessment as to whether or not the player fits in the long-term plans. There is certainly the sense that there’s something to play for at training camp this fall with plenty of competition in all areas of the Leaf line-up. In this sense, Fletcher has successfully achieved one of his goals coming in – to establish the mentality that you must earn your roster spot.
-The decision to not include Nik Kulemin in next weekend’s rookie tourney in Kitchener was made by the club, not the player. He’s really just a “rookie” in name only having played professionally in Russia for 3 years prior to his North American foray. He apparently looked like a man amongst boys in the rookie camp. As a player who’s expected to win a spot in the Leafs’ line-up at TC, the club likely decided to spare Kulemin – and the competition – the energy and let him focus on earning himself a roster spot with the big boys.