A new Toronto Maple Leafs season will be starting in a few days and the anticipation has been building for months now. The coaching staff has taken a look at the team throughout the pre-season and most of the opening lineup is set for this Thursday. One spot in particular seems to have gotten a lot more concrete for the first game. The third line  left-wing position was up for grabs during this pre-seaon schedule, and it seemed that the two players who pushed hardest were Matt Frattin and Nazem Kadri. If someone were to ask me a few days ago who I thought would be penciled in that spot come Thursday, I probably would have said Nazem Kadri, as he has impressed me the most. His chemistry with Tyler Bozak and Colby Armstrong cannot be denied and they were arguably the best line for the Maple Leafs since the pre-season started. Unfortunately for Kadri he suffered a knee sprain during the game against the Ottawa Senators last Wednesday. The team has said that he will miss 2-4 weeks, saying that it would probably be the latter of the two. This obviously opens the door for Matt Frattin to steal the spot from Kadri until he becomes healthy enough to return. Ron Wilson has stated to the media that Kadri would probably be sent down to the Toronto Marlies(AHL) for a conditioning stint before they made any decisions on putting him in the lineup.

So where does all this eventually leave Matt Frattin for the coveted third line wing position? Well, the injury to Kadri pretty much solidifies Frattin’s position on the third line with Bozak and Armstrong. I cannot see any other player available as talented or offensively aware enough to take that spot from him. Whether the third line consists of Bozak or Lombardi as the centre, I don’t see the wingers changing all that much. The Maple Leafs do not have as much depth on the wing to start the season. The only way this team is going to be successful is with three full contributing lines, and there simply is not enough skill to fill the wing. The battle will come in 3-4 weeks when Kadri comes back from his injury. Frattin is very smart without the puck and can score some goals, while Kadri is still having some trouble defensively but possesses more offensive flare. Either one would fit well on the third line of this team, that is not even up for debate. The question is how many games the Leafs will win with them in the lineup. I fully expect Nazem Kadri to stay in the AHL assuming of course that the Leafs get off to a running start with Frattin in the lineup. If the Leafs falter though, you can guarantee you will see Kadri called up for sure, along with any other line juggling needed. Whatever happens in the next 10 months, one thing is for sure, it will all begin on Thursday. Hopefully the lines we’ve seen in the past week provide some great chemistry for next couple of months because if they don’t…

Its going to be a long season.

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