The three game suspension of Nazem Kadri is problematic for the Toronto Maple Leafs beyond losing a talented player. Kadri is a center, which is a position of great importance to the injury plagued Maple Leafs. In addition, Dave Bolland is going to miss an extended period of time, while Tyler Bozak remains on long-term injured reserve.
The bond between all three players? Yeah, they all play center.
That means Toronto is without their top-three centers, which is an unenviable situation to be in. With that in mind, the club announced that Trevor Smith has been recalled from the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League. The Maple Leafs also sent defenseman John-Michael Liles back to the AHL to make room for the centerman.
In an attempt to battle their deficiency up the middle, coach Randy Carlyle moved James van Reimsdyk to center. While some have called for van Riemsdyk to be moved back to wing, line rushes from Thursday indicate he will remain on the top line with Mason Raymond and Phil Kessel on his wings:
Practice Lines: Raymond-JVR-Kessel. Lupul-McClement-Clarkson. Ashton-Smithson-Kulemin. McLaren-Kadri-Bodie-Orr.— Jonas Siegel (@jonasTSN1050) November 14, 2013
It remains to be seen what kind of combinations will be used Friday night against the Buffalo Sabres.
In the long term, speculation is brewing about manager Dave Nonis pursuing a trade. TSN's trio of insiders indicated that Nonis has inquired about Vernon Fiddler of the Dallas Stars, who reportedly requested a trade in the event that he didn't receive more ice time. Darren Dreger stated on Thursday afternoon that Nonis is working the phones but hasn't found a deal to his liking.