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Player performances mixed so far

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
by Tony Care.

As the Leafs continue their preseason excursion through the NHL in preparation for the regular season, some players have put together impressive training camps while others have struggled. Due to the tragedy in the United States last week, the Leafs decided to demote many of their young players sooner than expected and weren't able to evaluate them the way they'd hope.

The team will rely heavily on its veterans this year and hope to see how their prospects develop during the regular season. With that being said, here are some of the players who have stood out and some that need more work.

Curtis Joseph: Joseph was the only veteran who showed up to play in the Leafs' 3-0 loss to Montreal on Monday. He was spectacular in net and looks to be in midseason form. Joseph said he won't let contract talks between the team and his agent Don Meehan affect his performance. His play on Monday reflected that statement.

Mikael Renberg: Renberg is displaying the kind of strength and skill that the Leafs were hoping for when they traded for him in the summer. The Leafs brought him in to specifically play on a line with Mats Sundin and the two have shown the potential to be a very productive line.

Alyn McCauley: When McCauley signed his one-year deal in the summer, it was thought that he would be hard pressed to beat Nik Antropov as the team's fourth centre. Many thought that McCauley would be starting the season in St. John's, but the 24-year-old is making the decision tough for the Leafs. McCauley is showing some good offensive skills as he scored the Leafs only goal in Tuesday's 2-1 loss to Montreal. McCauley is making a good case for starting with the big club when the regular season begins.

Mikael Tellqvist: Tellqvist was impressive in his first game against Montreal on Tuesday. He stopped 15 of 17 shots and displayed excellent reflexes. However, Tellqvist still needs to get used to the NHL game, especially cutting down the angles quicker and the overall speed of the game.

Corey Schwab: Schwab was a late addition to training camp this year and the veteran has surprised some with his play. Schwab played better than Tellqvist on Tuesday. He stopped all nine shots, including two off the stick of Canadiens veteran Brian Savage from in close. As it stands now, Schwab and Tellqvist are in a neck and neck race for the right to back up Curtis Joseph.

Karel Pilar: This year's second-round pick has had an up and down training camp. Pilar is big, a good puckhandler and as a defenceman, isn't afraid to use his body. But the young Czech still need to learn the NHL game and struggled in the Leafs' first preseason game against Montreal on Monday.

Nik Antropov: Antropov has bulked up and is stronger, but he's not the offensive presence that the Leafs need him to be. His skating has always been his biggest weakness and he's often found shying away from the physical part of the game. With McCauley playing well in training camp, the pressure will be on Antropov to pick up his game.

Dave Manson: Manson is trying to show the Leafs he's still a player who can play every game, but to this point, he hasn't proven it. Against Montreal on Tuesday, he gave away the puck in his own zone that resulted in a goal. Even with Tomas Kaberle not in camp because of a contract dispute, Manson will struggle for playing time this year.
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