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02-13-2013, 06:18 AM
Realism ** Optimism
Interactif's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2011
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It May Be Time To Re-Visit Kessel at Center

It may be Time to re-try Kessel at Center.

As with Claude Giroux, Kessel came to the NHL as Center converted to a winger, last year Giroux was moved back to Center when Richards and Carter were moved out, last year he became one of the most dynamic players in the NHL when Flyers management thought he was ready to step into the role.

Phil Kessel was a Center that was converted to a winger in Boston, often young Centers are broken into the league on the wing until they are mature enough to handle the Center role, Tyler Seguin will be a center one day, Kessel has been so successful one the wing, teams just left him there. But he played Center in his formative years, and was very successful at it enough for scouts to call him the next Crosby.

As a winger there are times he still looks awkward clearing the puck on the around the boards breakout, however last season and this current year, Kessel has shown a maturity to his game that he didn’t possess in the 10-11 season when he was briefly tried at Center with Armstrong and Versteeg as his wingers. A 200 ft game, more grit, and as shown by his 9 assists this year an excellent passer.

Reasons why I think he will succeed, Randy Carlyle has introduced a far more structured team game that will allow players to flourish, though Kessel is thought as just a sniper, he may be miscast as just a goal scorer, he shows a complete game that is better suited at Center. His puck handling and vision will open up holes for his wingers. He has better support now, when Lupul comes back, he and Lupul have a great chemistry together, JVR his current winger is now also showing this same chemistry. Instead of breaking up a Kessel/JVR or Kessel/Lupul combo, simply move Kessel to the middle of JVR and Lupul.

Tyler Bozak has done a good job as the #1C, however a Kessel, Lupul, JVR line may strike fear into the opposition, it has the makings of one of the best lines in hockey.
Kessel’s speed, vision, and playmaking, JVR’s power, speed, and goalscoring ability, and Lupul’s board work, dirty area finishing all around play. This would provide the Leafs a legitimate #1 line they haven’t had since Sundin(another winger turned Center)Roberts, and Mogilny.
Yes, the time may be ripe to try Kessel at Center, often good athletes can play anywhere, we saw it in Team Canada at the Olympics, we saw it in Giroux and Sundin.

A Kessel, JVR, Lupul line may be too logical or enticing to Randy Carlyle to atleast not entertain the thought next time he fills out the lineup card.

It’s a topic that is atleast worth discussing, a good problem to have with the maturity shown in Kessel’s game. One thing we know, Randy Carlyle trusts his players, and he may trust Kessel has the game now to make it happen.

Agree or disagree.

Disclamer-Toronto Star or Sun sports writers, give cred where you got this idea

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