The Toronto Maple Leafs top line of Tyler Bozak between Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk combined for 133 points or 70 percent of the team’s scoring last season.
They were second only to Boston’s trio of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Jarome Iginla, which accounted for 152 points in 2013-14.
However, James Mirtle of The Globe and Mail suggests it might make sense to break up the trio and spread the scoring around.
“Would that idiot break up that line?” coach Randy Carlyle said. “You’re saying that [about me]. Or you’re going to say it if I do it.”
Carlyle added, “We’re willing to experiment in training camp.”
The Leafs dressed lines of Nazem Kadri, van Riemsdyk and Matt Frattin while Kessel played alongside Petri Kontiola and first-round pick William Nylander during a scrimmage on Day 3 of training camp.
The question of breaking up the top trio is prevalent as the Leafs attempt to find that elusive secondary scoring.
As Mirtle points out in his piece, winger Joffrey Lupul has played nearly half his even strength minutes over the past three seasons alongside Kessel. When the duo is together, the Leafs account for 3.7 goals per game. With them playing on separate lines, that number drops to 2.5 goals per game.
Keep in mind that’s a small sample size, but wherever Kessel plays, scoring seems to follow.
“You find ways to get it done out there,” Kessel said. “Obviously training camp’s getting used to guys and getting a feel for it.”
Kadri could also benefit from playing alongside van Riemsdyk on the team’s second line.
“If you see the teams that have success and make the deep playoff runs… they’re pretty balanced,” van Riemsdyk said. “They have a lot of depth. They can beat you in different ways.”
Expect the experimentation process to continue as Toronto begins its’ preseason schedule Monday against the Philadelphia Flyers.