Starting the blog off with a little bit of coverage from the Leafs rookie tournament in London, Ont., this weekend, where Toronto's youngsters are playing a round robin against prospects from the Sens, Pens and Blackhawks. I'll have a more formal "welcome to the site" by Monday.
The Leafs were on the ice around 11:30 this morning and we had a chance to chat with a few prospects after their skate. The only real news out of today was that defenceman Keith Aulie, acquired in the Dion Phaneuf trade from Calgary, is still fighting his shoulder injury a bit and won't play in any of the rookie tournament games.
Aulie's a big, 21-year-old kid (6-foot-5 and about 210, maybe more as he said he's beefed up a little) and has some real fans in the organization, but five games into his stint with the Marlies last year after the trade, he fell into the boards on an icing play and badly separated his shoulder. He's been rehabbing it all summer and said he wasn't able to get back into on-ice training until August. He also lost some weight (which he has since gained back) but the fact they're holding him out of games right now means he's at least a week away.
It's been a long haul for him to get back given that injury was in February.
Marlies coach Dallas Eakins is running the rookie camp, so here's some audio of him meeting with the media today (just as a note: these are scrums so I'm not asking all of the questions). Eakins said he thinks Aulie's good enough to challenge some of the NHL defencemen with one-way deals (which Toronto seems to have an abundance of this year) for a job this year:
And here's what Aulie had to say about getting dealt to Toronto, his injury and where he's at:
Audio is a new endeavour for us, so bear with me as we figure it out. I realize these files are large.
The Leafs' first game goes tonight against the Blackhawks rookies, and I'll have updates on Twitter throughout. Jussi Rynnas will start this game, while Ben Scrivens will play Sunday and Andrew Engelage on Tuesday.
There are a few other storylines here in London that I'll get into a little later. Nazem Kadri is the top one given he's from London and a lock to advance to the Leafs' main camp when it opens on Friday.
Here's the tournament schedule:
Sat. Sept. 11 2:00 PM Game #1 - Pittsburgh vs. Ottawa 7:00 PM Game #2 - Chicago vs. Toronto
Sun. Sept. 12 2:00 PM Game #3 - Ottawa vs. Chicago 7:00 PM Game #4 - Toronto vs. Pittsburgh
Mon. Sept. 13 TBA Practice (Chicago, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, Toronto)
Tues. Sept. 14 2:00 PM Game #5 - Chicago vs. Pittsburgh 7:00 PM Game #6 - Toronto vs. Ottawa