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Toronto Maple Leafs James van Riemsdyk attends training camp in Toronto on Thursday, September 18, 2013.

Chris Young/THE CANADIAN PRESS

It sounded more like musing more than anything.

But, then again, what else is training camp for?

Toronto Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle, on the first day of camp, pointed out that he has options when it comes to his top line, options that go beyond simply reuniting James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak and Phil Kessel.

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You know – the second highest scoring trio in the NHL last season.

"Would that idiot break up that line?" Carlyle said. "You're saying that [about me]. Or you're going to say it if I do it."

On the second day of camp, his players got a chance to respond.

"We haven't even dropped the puck yet!" van Riemsdyk said on Friday, the day before the team begins any kind of scrimmaging. "So I don't really know what to say about that."

"You find ways to get it done out there," Kessel admitted of a change. "Obviously training camp's getting used to guys and getting a feel for it."

"As a team last year, we know we didn't end up where we wanted to be," van Riemsdyk added. "And you've got to expect some type of changes could potentially happen."

The Leafs top line last season generated 190 points combined, and all three members were out there together for 133 – or 70 per cent – of those.

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Only the Boston Bruins' lethal Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Jarome Iginla line surpassed that (152), and they did so largely because Bozak missed 24 games with a couple of injuries.

The thing about Carlyle's potential scheme, however, is that it makes some sense. One of the Leafs real issues a year ago was getting secondary scoring, and they have another winger in Joffrey Lupul who has had a lot of success generating offence with Kessel.

The last three seasons, in fact, Lupul has played about half his even strength minutes with Kessel, and the Leafs have produced roughly 3.7 goals for every 60 minutes they were together.

When Lupul wasn't with Kessel, that figure was under 2.5 goals.

It's a fairly small sample size, but obviously playing with Kessel – one of the league's highest scoring players – would elevate any player's totals. What's interesting is Lupul's possession numbers have also been much higher as part of that top line, meaning the Leafs drove play better when the trio was together.

That could be the coaching change back in 2012. Or something else.

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Van Riemsdyk's offensive totals have also been lower sans Kessel, but not nearly to the extent Lupul's have dropped. And he also has shown an ability to drive puck possession – albeit with the Philadelphia Flyers – with different linemates.

"Both are great players," Kessel said, noting the biggest difference he could think of was that one is a righty and the other a lefty.

Breaking up the top line is no cure-all, but it could fit in with a larger strategy of better spreading offence throughout Toronto's lineup. With a revamped top unit, van Riemsdyk could help second line centre Nazem Kadri draw more defensive attention and it's possible they have some chemistry.

And Carlyle is already considering a third line that features David Booth and Mike Santorelli, who have played together extensively in Florida and Vancouver going back to 2010-11 and produced some offence.

There are still unresolved questions such as which unit would tackle other teams' top lines, but there's the foundation for some worthwhile tinkering there, especially in preseason when the games matter not.

After all, at this point, it's reasonable to expect that whoever plays with Kessel is going to produce points.

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The key will be finding out how to best complement that while also limiting what every line gives up in its own end, a puzzle that will play a big role in determining the Leafs success.

Even if it means dismantling part of what worked a year ago.

"We're willing to experiment in training camp," Carlyle explained.

"If you see the teams that have success and make the deep playoff runs… they're pretty balanced," van Riemsdyk admitted. "They have a lot of depth. They can beat you in different ways."

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