Реклама в Интернет * Все Кулички
Leafs take a look at prospects; Russian forward Kulemin 'looks like he's ready' for NHL // Toronto Star
They came from different worlds but yesterday, two of theMaple Leafs' most prized prospects wound up on the ice together.
First-round draft pick Luke Schenn and promising Russian forward Nikolai Kulemin joined 19 other hopefuls as the Leafs' annual prospects camp sweated through Day 2 of a week-long camp.
There's an outside chance the two could parlay their work at the camp into a job with the Leafs come opening night in October.
Kulemin, who turns 22 Monday, holds an inside track, having proved himself in the Russian league the past two seasons, and agreeing to join the Leafs after the club opened the door to an NHL job.
Schenn, an 18-year-old from Saskatoon, is attempting to be the first defenceman to go from the prospects camp to the NHL team since Tomas Kaberle successfully crossed that bridge in 1998.
"Going from junior (with Kelowna) to the NHL, for one thing you are playing against men, so obviously you have to improve your strength, but you have to work at everything to get to this level," Schenn said.
Kulemin wasn't as talkative as Schenn yesterday. In fact, he shied away from a small (by Leaf standards) media scrum even though part of the camp's purpose is orientation into the NHL lifestyle, including facing large media scrums.
Leafs GM Cliff Fletcher, who gained Kulemin's consent to play in Toronto after the organization faced hurdles with the player over the past two years, feels the young Russian is ready for the NHL.
"Based on what we've seen in the Russian league, he looks like he's ready," Fletcher said of Kulemin, who has a dedicated highlight video tribute on YouTube.
Schenn, while showing obvious talent, remains at a point in his development where the Leafs may want to take a judicious approach.
There are seven candidates for the blue line and unless Bryan McCabe and possibly Pavel Kubina are traded, the Leafs will have little or no room for a teenaged defenceman, and could return Schenn to junior.
Schenn's Kelowna Rockets will almost certainly be a Memorial Cup favourite next season, and there is an opportunity to win another gold medal with the Canadian team at the world junior championship.