The Leafs' long search for a No. 1 centre has turned up a new candidate.
Coach Ron Wilson's famed line juggling hit a new level today at practice as Kessel shifted to centre a line with Kris Versteeg and Colby Armstrong, who will make his return to the lineup.
Rookie Nazem Kadri was dropped down to the fourth unit with a pair of enforcers on his wings, including Jay Rosehill, who was recalled from the minors today as Joey Crabb was sent back down.
Wilson said the plan is for Kadri to pick up much of his ice time on the power play.
"He's struggled a little bit and I think he's mostly best suited right now to be playing a lot on the power play and that's where we'll use him," Wilson said. "And we'll spot the fourth line in when we can.
"Phil's volunteered to be a centre so he might have some more open ice, especially playing the Bruins where [as a winger]he was coming down one side and he's running into [Zdeno]Chara so maybe we can get Phil's feet going and I'm glad he volunteered to play centre on a line."
The Leafs coaching staff asked Kessel to play centre last season soon after he first joined the lineup, but he declined to make that shift. Now that he has volunteered for the move, it'll be interesting how he well adapts to the position (especially in his own end).
Wilson also addressed, briefly, the fans' chant of "Fire Wilson" during the third period last night against the Oilers.
"Well you don't like to hear that but that's par for the course the way we're playing right now," Wilson said. "Fans have every right to say whatever they want."
The full lineup heading into Saturday's game with the Bruins looks like so, although it's worth keeping in mind that Wilson rarely keeps his combinations in tact for a full game:
Versteeg - Kessel - Armstrong MacArthur - Grabovski - Kulemin Sjostrom - Bozak - Brent Orr - Kadri - Rosehill Mitchell
Beauchemin - Komisarek Kaberle - Schenn Gunnarsson - Aulie Lebda