Why Mikhail Grabovski Should Be The Number One Centre In Toronto
With the Toronto Maple Leafs looking as if they will once again fail to address their biggest need this off-season, a first line centre, Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke will likely look to James van Riemsdyk to solve their problems down the middle.
With van Riemsdyk set to give centre “a try” at training camp, head coach Randy Carlyle will have to start from square one with an inexperienced 23-year old that is more adept to playing left wing than the highly demanding centre position.
While JVR has played some centre at the College level, he has little experience at the NHL level and there is a huge difference between the two. Any forward position is demanding, centre requires excellent skating, a keen ability to find players in opem ice, a slew of defensive responsibilities (which is a weak spot for JVR) and the added pressure of having to win important faceoffs (where JVR has little experience).
Toronto currently employs six natural centres on their roster, including Mikhail Grabovski, Tim Connolly, Matthew Lombardi, Tyler Bozak, Jay McClement and David Steckel.