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Leafs set to take “long look” at James van Riemsdyk as a center

Jul 5, 2012, 8:45 PM EDT

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When the Toronto Maple Leafs landed “thoroughbred” forward James van Riemsdyk via a trade, the immediate question was: where will he fit? Being that he’s a winger, lining him up with Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul didn’t seem like an obvious answer,* but Lance Hornby reports that Leafs coach Randy Carlyle will give JVR a “long look” at center during training camp.

Now, such an idea doesn’t guarantee much. It could just be a short-term camp experiment. There’s also no promise that the Leafs would want to load up with that young trio of scorers, although Mikhail Grabovski seems ideally suited as a hidden gem of a second center.

Still, Carlyle hasn’t been shy about taking a look at big, American wingers in the middle. He gave (fellow second overall pick) Bobby Ryan a solid run at center in Anaheim, with moderate results.

Of course, playing center presents a significant set of challenges. The two most obvious questions are: can he handle the increase in defensive responsibility and survive in the faceoff circle?

It certainly wouldn’t hurt to take a look.

* – Even if Kessel came into the league with some experience as a pivot …

  1. icdogg - Jul 5, 2012 at 9:14 PM

    Sure, why not.

  2. cloudniner9 - Jul 5, 2012 at 10:20 PM

    it’still the leafs so does it really matter, they have a lock on 9th in the east

    • wpgjetter - Jul 6, 2012 at 1:12 AM

      9th???? they will be lucky to not finish dead last…lol

  3. flyers89 - Jul 6, 2012 at 5:47 AM

    Unfortunately the leafs have a small problem… The only time JVR ever showed real potential was in the playoffs.. Key word playoffs.

  4. raoool - Jul 6, 2012 at 12:31 PM

    JVR’s got the skills. How to get it out of him on a full time basis is still a mystery. Good kid. Hope it works out for him.

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