No. 1 centre is Leafs priority one – Forget about a goalie, Leafs need to find someone to feed Kessel the puck — and quick

The bottom line is this: Without a front-line centre, Kessel’s talents are being wasted. He was a 37-goal scorer last year but with a bonafide first-line centre, he might be a 50-goal scorer. Further to that, the Leafs will not take the next step in becoming a threat to go deep into the playoffs until they address the first-line centre situation.

Centre should be priority No.1 for the Leafs.

Tyler Bozak is not a first-line centre on a good team. He’s had some success with Kessel and Joffrey Lupul in the past, but he’s more of a second or third line guy. And he would probably thrive in that capacity, just like Mikhail Grabovski is a solid second-line centre. After five games, Bozak has two goals and an assist and is minus-3. So how about this? Until Nonis is able (or willing) to pull the trigger on a deal for a first-line centre, why not move Kadri, who leads the Leafs in scoring with three goals and five points, to the first unit and drop Bozak to the third line? The 22-year-old is clearly coming into his own and granting him more minutes on the first line with Kessel would likely lift his play even more.

It’s crucial to get Kessel going. There have been suggestions that trying James van Riemsdyk at centre on the first line might be the answer. But why mess with success? Like Kadri, van Riemsdyk is playing well and doing the things the Leafs were hoping for, like crashing the net and using his size on the boards and in the corners. Kessel will eventually find his scoring touch. But until the Leafs get him a bonafide top-line centre, he’ll never reach his potential. Nor will the Leafs.

6 Responses to No. 1 centre is Leafs priority one – Forget about a goalie, Leafs need to find someone to feed Kessel the puck — and quick

  1. doorman says:

    This is an easier said then done request. Team don’t commonly look to trade 1st line centres, #1 dmen or goalies. this team has beiiger problems then just a #c and the cost of aquiring a player like that would likely cripple of depth going forward, IMO.

  2. nordiques100 says:

    Kessel is getting his chances, just not finishing.

    He scored 30+ goals in each of the last 4 years without much of a centre.

    its missing lupul that will hurt him more. He needs someone to play with him, not necessarily a centre. just someone who can create some space for him. MacArthur isnt that player.

    Bozak is out of place for sure, but thats not his fault. it was another person who’s last name starts with B that is at fault.

    Maybe JVR is going to play there, but will Carlyle go there? Thats the question.

    It can’t be just any player who simply can pass. Tim Connolly has made a career as a passer, yet he is in the minors.

    Lupul has the speed to keep up with Kessel. but he also goes into the hard areas, gets him the puck and provides a net presence. driving the net allows Kessel some room.

    JVR may be able to accomplish that. Mac is more of an outside kind of guy who can’t hit the side of a barn.

    The team isn’t deep enough talent wise to go without Lupul. JVR is nice, but there is a significant lacking of bigger players up front, or players willing to get dirty, but with skill.

    The only centre who technically is “available” and worth getting is Ryan O’Reilly. Price would be extreme though.

    Not sure the Leafs have the horses to make that happen. especially without carving into Reilly, Gardiner or their 1st rounders.

    Think the time will be the off-season to find that centre.

    Saving the 1st is key, in case they do tumble down the standings. It could get them a shot at an 18 year old forward like MacKinnon or Drouin or Monahan, or Barkov or Lindholm. To go though another draft of passing over the 1st round with a high pick could set the organization back another 5 years.

    They should wait til the off-season as this isn’t a team that is one or two players away. you never know. Perry, Getzlaf and others could be out there.

    ripping into their core group of Kessel, Lupul, Gardiner, Reilly, Dion, their 1sts, Kadri would be counter productive at this point.

    maybe finding an affordable goalie, or centre depth (maybe an Arnott if he can get back healthy) is more prudent course of action.

    I am hoping that it will be the offseason that the Leafs organization, with the Bell/Rogers will throw their weight around mightily and do something big financially at an impact guy. not a sign for the sake of signing a guy like the Komisarek, the Blakes, the Kubina’s, the Allisons, the Lindros signings of recent years were.

    • leafs_wallace93 says:

      It’s funny my fondest memories of the JFJ era was seeing Lindros in a Leafs uniform and he played like a beast the thirty some games he suited up. Remember all those years he was just trying to become a Leaf while stuck in a Fylers or NYR jersey.

      I’d be happy if we could land Perry this summer. I’m not of the mindset that we have to solve all our issues at once. Having Perry would give Kessel incentive to extend his contract and we’d be in a great position to get lure that center. Then we could for the first time in Leafs history have that monster line to answer the Nash-Richards-Gaborik.

      As long as we put a piece in each season I consider it a successful rebuild. A big UFA and a great draft pick (I got a bit carried away after we bounced Pittsburgh but it appears Tank Nation is alive and well) would to wonders to create interest.

      We also have enough young parts to package for the next superstar that find himself in a Rick Nash or Danny Heatley sweepstakes situation.

      Clowe is a pending UFA could let MacAuthur walk and put that money towards Clowe. JVR, Clowe, Kulemin, Lupul, Orr give the Leafs some jam.

      Not really that interesting on the RFA market.

      Nonis just has to keep making good strides and not fast track anything.

      • doorman says:

        I have defended Orr in previous threads and like how he has done what he had to, to become an NHL’er again. However if Nonis is able to sign Clowe then, IMO Orr is not back as he is a UFA. I like what clowe brings for sure, but am curious for a perspective from fans that follow him more closely. He would seem to solve our Lucic type player problems though, as a guy who is physical and scores. Though I am guessing as physical as he is and being 30, he is on the down slope of his carrer. His style of play has to have started to take it’s toll on his body one would think?

        • leafs_wallace93 says:

          Keep Orr on the forth line and finally be a team that can bully others. Clowe and Orr wouldn’t be competing for minutes, one is in the top nine the other isn’t.

          Clowe is productive and mean, it’s such a shame Fletcher almost landed this guy for Kubina. Thanks again for setting an example Mats….

  3. doorman says:

    I also possibly look to trade kessel based on contract talks. If he appears to not be willing to extend, then i think you have to trade him, no?

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