Rookie turning heads

MIKE GANTER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:51 AM ET

It wasn't a full-fledged ringing endorsement from his coach, but Kyle Wellwood appears to be on the way to some substantial playing time in the next little while.

The rookie forward skated on the first line with Mats Sundin and fellow rookie Alex Steen in last night's 4-3 overtime win over the Montreal Canadiens. While the line didn't hit the scoresheet together, they showed coach Pat Quinn enough that they'll remain together for at least the next little while.

On its own that should immediately boost the 11 minutes of ice time a game the dynamic rookie had been averaging coming into last night's game.

"It worked pretty well," Quinn said of the newly formed line. "Young Wellwood is a smart little player. He dazzled a couple of times but he dazzled us a couple of times too."

Count Sundin among those dazzled by Wellwood.

"Kyle is one of those guys who I keep watching and I'm amazed at his hockey sense and the way he can create out there out of almost nothing," Sundin said. "Tonight again he almost scored two highlight goals all by himself (Jose Theodore stoned him twice). I love to play with him. Keep him on my line all year. I like it."

Quinn wasn't ready to make any promises though.

As much as he enjoyed the two playing together alongside Steen he sees a lot of similarities between Wellwood and Sundin that might not make it a perfect fit.

"Throughout his career, that has been his strength --holding on to the puck and taking ice that is there," Quinn said of Wellwood. "People who he has had success with are guys who play off his puck-carrying ability. Mats is kind of the same so it may not end up to be a good line but I think he is a bright young fellow who I think will push to expand his game."

Quinn is counting on both Wellwood and Sundin to make the adjustment so their similarities don't become a detriment to keeping them on the same line.

"They're both good players and good players make adjustments and find out how to take advantage of the skills their linemates have so we will try it for a little bit," Quinn said.


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