Wellwood feeling centred

Kyle Wellwood will likely be moved to centre next season. (Sun File/Michael Peake)

Kyle Wellwood will likely be moved to centre next season. (Sun File/Michael Peake)

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:54 AM ET

Kyle Wellwood is moving back to familiar territory.

Prior to undergoing sports hernia surgery midway through the 2006-07 season, the young forward spent much of his playing time on the wing, a position he was relatively unfamiliar with.

But now the Leafs are looking to have him be their second-line centre behind Mats Sundin, where he might get a shot at playing with newcomer Jason Blake.

"Bringing in a guy with 40 goals, you expect he will work well with Mats, but we expect him to play with Kyle as well," coach Paul Maurice said, adding that Blake's "offence and speed means he's a fit with Mats but this isn't only about who's best with Mats."

Maurice would like to get Wellwood's playing time up to at least 16 minutes per game. As well, he is looking for both Wellwood and Nik Antropov to be more durable than they have been in the past.

Asked if the additions of Blake, Mark Bell and Vesa Toskala will push Toronto to become a playoff team, Maurice cautiously said yes.

"But if you look around the league I think there are two or three teams who didn't make the playoffs who think the same thing. Look at teams like Carolina or Philly ... they certainly got stronger."

EXHIBITION SKED RELEASED

Highlighting the Maple Leafs' eight-game exhibition schedule, which was released yesterday, is a date against the Phoenix Coyotes at Winnipeg's MTS Centre on Sept. 19. It marks the Leafs' first appearance in Winnipeg since Feb. 28, 1996.

It will also be a special night for John Ferguson Jr. and Alex Steen. Ferguson's late father, John, was an icon in Winnipeg during his days at the helm of the hockey franchise. Steen grew up in Winnipeg while his dad Thomas was playing for the Jets.

LOOSE LEAFS

Veteran Jeremy Roenick, who is pondering retirement, did contact the Leafs recently. Roenick has made no secret of his desire to play in a hockey-crazed market such as Toronto ... The Leafs this week signed forward Nathan Perrott in order to add depth to the AHL Marlies.

LEAFS PRE-SEASON SCHEDULE

Sept. 18 at Edmonton, 7 p.m.

Sept. 19 vs Phoenix, 7:30 p.m. (at Winnipeg)

Sept. 20 vs. Phoenix, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 22 at Boston, 4 p.m.

Sept. 24 vs. Ottawa, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 26 vs. Buffalo, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 28 vs. Detroit, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 29 at Detroit, 7 p.m.


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