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With Kadri suspended, Maple Leafs look for centre options

TSN.ca Staff

11/14/2013 5:21:43 PM

The Toronto Maple Leafs will have to look for centre options in light of Nazem Kadri's three game suspension.

Kadri was dressed in a green jersey at Thursday's practice and skated as an extra forward on the team's fourth line as the Leafs..

Kadri was handed a three-game suspension by the league for his hit to Minnesota Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom during Wednesday night's game.

Kadri was also assessed a match penalty later in Wednesday night's game for a hit to the head of Wild forward Mikael Granlund.

James van Riemsdyk lined up between Phil Kessel and Mason Raymond at Leafs practice on Thursday. Jay McClement moved up to the second line, centring Joffrey Lupul and David Clarkson. Jerred Smithson centred Carter Ashton and Nikolai Kulemin on the third line, while Kadri skated on a fourth line that included Troy Bodie in between Frazer McLaren and Colton Orr.

The Leafs are already stretched thin at centre thanks to injuries to Tyler Bozak and Dave Bolland.

Bozak resumed on-ice activity this week but is still nursing a lower body injury. He was placed on the injured reserve on Oct. 27 and was expected to miss at least 7-10 days.

Bolland will be out indefinitely with a leg laceration he suffered in Saturday's game against the Vancouver Canucks. He was placed on injured reserve on Nov. 4 and is expected to be out for a matter of months.

Other centre-ice options for the Leafs include moving Raymond to the middle from his more familiar position on the wing like they did with van Riemsdyk. Another option is Trevor Smith, who is currently with the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League. Smith has one goal in nine games with the Leafs this season.

If the Leafs look beyond Smith to the Marlies, their current crop of centres includes Sam Carrick, Andrew Crescenzi and Greg McKegg.