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Veterans, kids vie for last job on Leaf defence

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09-15-2005, 04:12 AM
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bonjovi0308
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Veterans, kids vie for last job on Leaf defence

MARK ZWOLINSKI
SPORTS REPORTER

When Bryan Marchment or Brad Brown step on the ice, they command the kind of respect that makes players take notice of their whereabouts at all times.

The two veterans are competing for the seventh and final spot on the Leafs' defensive corps. The question is whether the club will fill the job with a older player, or elect to go with youth.

The youthful competition for Marchment and Brown comes from 23-year-old Swede Staffan Kronwall, and 25-year-old Andy Wozniewski, who opened eyes in a 28-game stint with the St. John's Maple Leafs last season.

"Whether I had a contract 10 years ago or three years ago, I always fight for my position," said Marchment, 36, in camp on a tryout basis.

Marchment, perhaps, presents the best option for a team that has both youth and experience when it makes its decision after a six-game, 10-day stretch that begins Sunday.

Leafs coach Pat Quinn hasn't said whether he wants an experienced hand as his seventh defenceman, or if he'd prefer a younger player and allow him to develop.

The job opened in late August when it was revealed that Karl Pilar came down with a heart ailment that will keep him out until Christmas. Pilar would almost certainly have made the club as a sixth defenceman.

That left Carlo Colaiacovo as the leading candidate for the seventh spot. But now with Pilar out, Colaiacovo slides comfortably into the sixth spot.

The defensive corps is essentially set: the first pairing is comprised of Bryan McCabe and Tomas Kaberle; the second features newly signed Alex Khavanov and the steady Ken Klee; and the third has Colaiacovo paired with Aki Berg.

The seventh defenceman will sit more than he plays activated only if one of the six regulars is injured, or is performing below standards. An ideal candidate is almost always a veteran, who already has the experience with role-playing and keeping himself game-ready. A younger player is normally better served by playing in the minors rather than mostly sitting at the big league level.

Is it true that Carlo has been sloted as the 6th dman already? I have nothing against him, but I believe Kronwall should be ahead of him. Kronwall might not be as a gifted player as Carlo is, but I think Kronwall is a more reliable defenseman. BTW, I think the signing of Andy Wozniewski, has been great. I believe he could at least be a 6/7th in the NHL.

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09-15-2005, 05:59 AM
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Rand
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I'd rather see Kronwall get a year in the AHL before slotting him into our regular lineup, and I don't think his development would be well served by being a 7 D-Man on the Leafs and being a healthy scratch as often as not.


Colaiacovo deserves the #6 spot without hesitation IMHO, unless he falters badly in camp it's his to lose as far as I'm concerned.
He's got the upside to be a solid #2-3 D-Man, he's capable both offensively and defensively.
It's time we see what he can do in the NHL.


I'm leaning towars preferring Marchment as the #7 guy. We need a big intimidating stay at home D-Man and he'll fit the bill.
After his last season with Toronto he seems to have toned down his head hunting ways, so I'm comfortable seeing him as our #7 guy for this season.

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09-15-2005, 06:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rand
I'd rather see Kronwall get a year in the AHL before slotting him into our regular lineup, and I don't think his development would be well served by being a 7 D-Man on the Leafs and being a healthy scratch as often as not.


Colaiacovo deserves the #6 spot without hesitation IMHO, unless he falters badly in camp it's his to lose as far as I'm concerned.
He's got the upside to be a solid #2-3 D-Man, he's capable both offensively and defensively.
It's time we see what he can do in the NHL.


I'm leaning towars preferring Marchment as the #7 guy. We need a big intimidating stay at home D-Man and he'll fit the bill.
After his last season with Toronto he seems to have toned down his head hunting ways, so I'm comfortable seeing him as our #7 guy for this season.
I agree with all this.

As far as I'm concerned, Colaiacovo earned his spot on the team when he forced his way on to the team out of training camp as a 19 year old. He stay with the team for over a month, but never really got a chance. On a lot of other teams in the NHL, he could already be going into his third NHL season.

Since the Leafs sent him down that year, other than having a few injuries break up his seasons he's done everything asked of him and has been St. John's best defenceman. He at least deserves a chance with the big club to start the season. I honestly think sending him down again would hurt his development more than help.

Marchment should be the 7th guy. We need his physical presence back there. I'll wait to see Kronwall in the exhibitions, but if he's as good as been advertised a having him as the first injury callup wouldn't be bad. A year with the Marlies wouldn't hurt him.

Brown and Wozniewski would be the other callups. I agree with the original poster who said that Wozniewski has a shot to be a number 6 or 7 NHL defenceman.

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