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(MARK BLINCH)
(MARK BLINCH)

Leafs land Brunnstrom Add to ...

PHOENIX - For the moment anyway, the newest member of the Toronto Maple Leafs - the once heralded prospect, Fabian Brunnstrom - will report to the team's American Hockey League affiliate, the Marlies, to see how he manages in his new North American home.

The plan, according to general manager Brian Burke, is to see how fares there because the Marlies are going through some injury woes and need help.

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After that? It'll be up to Brunnstrom himself, to see if he is actually NHL ready - or just a once-hyped free agent from Sweden that could never adjust to the unique rhythms and demands of the NHL style.

The Leafs acquired Brunnstrom - and his $675,000, one-way contract - from the Dallas Stars Thursday in exchange for prospect Mikhail Stefanovich, who is currently playing in Russia's Continental Hockey League.

For the Stars, a team needing to stay fiscally prudent in the wake of ownership uncertainty, it sheds a one-way contract from their payroll. Brunnstrom was playing for their Iowa Stars affiliate, and of late, had been producing pretty well - six goals in the past six games.

"Our coaches down there said he's been their best player for awhile now," said Stars' general manager Joe Nieuwendyk. "He's a big, strong kid with top-six skill level, but he wasn't going to get that chance in our organization with James Neal and Jamie Benn playing ahead of him. It's a very good deal Toronto. Maybe a fresh start is what he needs."

Burke suggested that Brunnstrom gives the Leafs an "NHL-skill level call-up guy," which the team lacked at the moment.

The 25-year-old is a restricted free agent at the end of the season and needed to clear waivers earlier in the season to be demoted to the AHL by Dallas.

The Stars shed a second contract earlier by putting Brandon Segal on waivers, who ultimately cleared - all of which helps them pay the salary of recently acquired Jamie Langenbrunner, the former New Jersey Devils captain.

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