Toronto Maple Leafs: Line Changes Looming…Again!
With the Toronto Maple Leafs number one prospect Nazem Kadri expected to play tonight against the Vancouver Canucks many Maple Leaf fans are looking at tonight’s game as a new beginning.
Not only will head coach Ron Wilson be adding another offensive threat to his lineup, he will also have the opportunity to blow up the current lines in favor of four units that actually work.
As good as Tyler Bozak has been in the faceoff circle (59.8%, ranked sixth overall) his lack of scoring (two goals and five points in 15 games) is concerning.
Thus far, Bozak has been appointed the Maple Leafs number one centre. With little to no competition for said position Bozak has been able to avoid a lot of scrutiny from Leafs Nation.
Recently one of my faithful readers suggested putting Mikhail Grabovski on the first line with Phil Kessel, and you know what? I kinda like that idea!
Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting that Mikhail Grabovski is a legitimate number one centre, but with seven assists and nine points through 15 games he seems to be the most capable centre offensively, which could help spark Kessel.
Grabovski likes to carry the puck into the offensive zone and has a penchant for running out of space which often leads to the Potsdam, Germany born (bet you thought he was born in Russia, didn’t ya?) speedster to throw the puck in front of the net and/or look for a streaking player to pass the puck to.
Kessel, who also likes to hold onto the puck, may benefit from having another player moving the puck into the offensive zone, allowing him to more effectively use his speed and develop a lethal one-timer instead of always using his patented “outside-inside, shoot the puck at the net move.”
Grabovski currently leads the Maple Leafs with a plus seven rating (Bozak is a minus four), owns a 50% faceoff success rate and, in the right situation, has always been thought to be a legitimate 50 point threat.
I cannot see Wilson using Kadri as his first line centre and Bozak simply isn’t getting the desired results, so why not Grabbo on the first line?
A first line of Nikolai Kulemin (four goals, five assists, plus one in 15 games played), Mikhail Grabovski and Phil Kessel would be a good starting point, followed by a second line that would see Wilson experiment with Kris Versteeg (back permitting), Tyler Bozak and Nazem Kadri as a threesome.
That would leave the third and fourth lines in tact, which, given the fact the bottom two lines have performed well this season, would not disrupt the team chemistry too much.
I think if we polled the Leafs Nation the answer would be a resounding “No”. So, why continue to kid ourselves? Why not give Grabovski (who may or may not be the answer) a chance to prove he belongs?
I mean, what’s the worst that could happen? The Maple Leafs have already lost seven in a row!
Ya got nothing to lose Mr. Wilson, I say go for it!
Until next time,