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Leaf rookies looking to make an impression

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
by Tony Care

With their medical and fitness tests behind them, Leafs rookie hopefuls will now try and show what they can do on the ice. As rookie camp begins for 23 Leaf prospects Thursday, the organization will get to see what kind of shape their young players are in.

The camp, which is in its fourth year, will test Leaf prospects against one another and they also will get a chance to play the rookies from three other NHL teams starting with Carolina on Thursday night. So far, the team has been pleased with how its prospects have maintained their fitness level during the summer.

"Our guys have improved considerably since the prospects camp (which took place in July) in terms of conditioning, which is a great sign for us," said Leafs Development Coach Paul Dennis. "That means that they're very serious and the message got through that conditioning is important."

While Dennis has seen plenty of young players this summer, he doesn't think this camp is a true measuring stick for evaluating these rookies.

"I would have to say no because they're not playing against professional athletes," he said. "That's why training camp is more valuable. Right now they're competing against others they've played against all along so we'll get a better sense of how they're progressing against the pros."

Many eyes will be on 1999 first-round pick Brad Boyes. The Mississauga, Ontario native will have plenty of pressure to make the big club in the next two years. Boyes, playing for the Erie Otters last season, finished fifth in scoring in the OHL with 90 points. He probably won't make the Leafs this season, but the organization is thrilled with his progress thus far.

Here is the list of prospects attending the rookie camp:

Forwards: Brad Boyes; Luca Cereda; Nicolas Corbeil; Miguel Delisle; Kevin Karlander; Robb Palahnuk; Jonathan Roy; Jaroslav Sklenar; Joe Talbot; Kris Vernarsky; Kyle Wellwood.

Defence: Brendan Bell; Christian Chartier; Carlo Colaiacovo; Jean-Philippe Cote; Jay Harrison; Tomas Mojzis; Lubos Velebny; Jonathan Zion.

Goalies: Sebastien Centomo; Jan Chovan; Jamie Hodson; Jean-Francois Racine.
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