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Jiri Tlusty Looking to Make the Jump to TO

Tuesday, 09.11.2007 / 3:03 PM ET / Features
By Mike Ulmer  - Mapleleafs.com commentator
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Jiri Tlusty Looking to Make the Jump to TO
(KITCHENER, ON) - Jiri Tlusty, all of 19, is beginning to outgrow the company he is keeping

The centre-left wing completed the recent rookie tournament with a team-leading three goals, including one in the tourney final against Florida.

Tlusty, a native of the Czech Republic, will be targeted for either the American Hockey League Marlies or a return to the Soo Greyhounds for a second season.

After a slow start at camp, Tlusty has begun to assert himself the way he did last year in the OHL playoffs where he scored nine goals and added eight assists in 13 games.

“I think the first couple of games, he looked a little off. He wasn’t himself,” said Marlies head coach Greg Gilbert, who might inherit Tlusty at the Ricoh Coliseum.

“He’s getting back to doing what he does best, skating with the puck, protecting it, winning all the loose puck battles and using his skill, his abilities, to play both ends.”

Picked 13th overall at the 2006 draft, Tlusty is a handful. He has good hand skills, nice vision and good skating skills. He has become extremely solid on his skates and has no trouble going into the high-scoring areas.

Now in his second North American training camp, Tlusty feels much more comfortable than in his first year. Hours spent in front of the television have paid off. His English is dramatically improved.
Jiri Tlusty has come a long way since being drafter 13th overall last summer. (GettyImages)

 “It’s a little bit easier from last year,” Tlusty said. “I can talk to the guys and talk to the coach. I understand coaches when they talk with me. It’s good for me and good for the other people in the organization.”

Tlusty scored three goals in a six-game stint with the Marlies but was nonetheless sent to the Soo to acclimatize himself to North American life. He hit the first major pothole of his career last season when he sustained a high-ankle sprain in the Soo. He missed six weeks.

“The ankle injury was the biggest injury of my career but I feel good right now,” he said. “We’ll see after camp but I think it’s good right now.”

That doesn’t mean any permanent jump to the Marlies will be easy.

“I played three games with the Marlies and I had two bad games,” he said. “I have to play better with the puck and try to make good passes, be stronger. I think everything is coming.”

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