Toronto Maple Leafs training camp started this past friday, officially kicking off the countdown to opening faceoff. The first task for Coach Ron Wilson was to group his 64 skaters into three sets of teams named after Leafs greats Darryl Stittler, George Armstrong, and Ted Kennedy.
Wilson states that he has changed his strategy for this training camp. He plans on establishing lines early, and allowing chemistry to flow. Tyler Bozak, Nikolai Kulemin, and Phil Kessel—all of team Sittler— hope to pick up where they left off.
Meanwhile, defencemen Tomas Kaberle and Mike Komisarek will be working together as part of team Kennedy.
Keeping chemistry in mind—based on the three rosters and their lines—the Leafs should look like this come opening night:
*This is the only area where the lines for the opening night are not already playing together as neither Mitchell nor Hanson are on team Armstrong with Orr and Brown. However, the fourth line is the only place this occurs.
The forward lines offer talent mixed with a power forward on each of the top-two lines. There's an energy third line that can do a bit of grinding while bringing lots of speed. Finally, a fourth line that takes no nonsense.
On defense, Phaneuf is paired with a two-way defenseman Beauchemin. Offensively creative but risky, Kaberle should benefit from the rugged stay at home play of Komisarek. Schenn and Gunnarsson get the opportunity to build on strong finishes and establish chemistry in an attempt to become the pairing of the future.
A strong lineup, not too surprising either. The other players who could make the team would be: Jerry D'Amigo, Marcel Mueller, Keith Aulie, Jeff Finger, Brett Lebda, and Brayden Irwin.
Clearly the Leafs appear to have some preferred lines heading into the season, the question is:
Can someone play well enough to screw them up?