Kyle might be the answer

JODY VANCE -- 24 Hours Toronto

, Last Updated: 10:01 AM ET

Perhaps it's some sort of Pavlovian experiment, but when I feel a chill in the air -- I brace myself for the predominant Leaf Question of the season I know I'll hear over and over again.

This year's is "Who's gonna play with Sundin?"

The speculated candidates were varied when camp opened -- from Jeff O'Neill returning to form to the young Aleksander Suglobov -- and then there are the wishes of the fans who hope for trades to make the magic happen.

Early in this campaign, the legitimate candidate for that big gig beside Sundin is Kyle Wellwood.

With a regular spot on the top line, this dark horse is taking full advantage of the platform with one goal and seven assists in his first six games, not counting last night's tilt with Colorado.

Wellwood delivers what his team needs most, support for the captain.

At just five-foot-10 and 180 pounds, Wellwood isn't the kind of person that would have you saying, "Now there's a hockey player." But, when this 23-year-old Windsor native is on the ice, you realize there is a whole lot of skill rolled up into this relatively small package.

Currently, he averages somewhere around 19 minutes a game, so obviously he has the backing of his coach.

Fans embraced the idea of Wellwood being "the one" back on Oct. 5 when he set up Darcy Tucker twice, Sundin once and even handed one off to Alexei Ponikarovsky for a career four-assist night in the 6-0 win over the hated Sens.

Somewhere along the way he has also managed to earn the rep of being one of the best puck handlers on the team.

Yes, it is still early in the polls, but this kid is gaining support from all parties -- and if you look real close you'll see the grin behind the game face.

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Jody Vance is a sportscaster with Leafs TV. Her columns appear Tuesdays and Thursdays in 24 hours. jody.vance@tor.sunpub.com


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