Sunday, September 23, 2007

Who is Anton Stralman?

Back in 1998, a lanky kid with a unibrow who spoke next to no English arrived at the Leafs training camp on whatever realm lies two stops past the peripheral. Drafted 206th overall with no hoopla following him into town this young Czech came out of nowhere demonstrating incredible poise, slick skating and a vision of the ice usually reserved for guys drafted 200 or so spots ahead of him. His name was Thomas Kaberle.

When Anton Stralman was drafted in 2005 at 216th overall, it's doubtful JFJ and his cronies believed they had landed another such fortuitous find. However in the months preceding camp word out of Sweden was that this kid was the next big thing. So far, last night especially, there is reason to believe they may have been on to something when they called him the next Lidstrom.

This week the Leafs will face NHL caliber rosters and if given the chance to play, we'll find out if Stralman can play like he did yesterday against tougher opposition. If he comes out shiny on the other end my guess is this kid makes the team.

BAD NEWS: Wellwood is out indefinitely. We'll know in the next 3-4 days what that actually means. This is bad news for the team, but good news for a handful of youngsters and journeymen who have proven they should get a few more looks for a fill in.

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