Returning vets leave fourth-liners on bubble

LANCE HORNBY

, Last Updated: 7:18 AM ET

NEWARK -- For some Maple Leafs, the extra hour of sleep gained this weekend will be lost worrying about roster developments between last night's 3-2 loss and tonight against the Canadiens.

Simon Gamache played his 10th game last night, requiring him to clear NHL waivers should the club try and send him down. Mark Bell's 15-game suspension ends at the final buzzer tonight at the Bell Centre and Kyle Wellwood looked spry at the morning skate yesterday after a second hernia-related layoff.

Add in Paul Maurice's post-game comments about dismantling the Leafs' first power-play unit and there are plenty of lineup scenarios.

In the short term, it will revolve around the fourth line, where winger Gamache has been relegated after his promising start. He had four points in three games, but after 6:45 of ice time and a minus-one last night, he is pointless in his past seven.

"Right now, he has earned the right to be here until someone comes back and takes his job away," Maurice said. "If it comes to a point where we're over the limit and we decide he is no longer in our lineup and has to be waived, then we will deal with that."

Maurice put Wade Belak back in the lineup last night and might be tempted to use Wellwood tonight if the Leafs are able to have a full contact practice today.

There is also a chance he'll use Andrew Raycroft in goal, though Vesa Toskala has not been a detriment.

Maurice foresees Bell as a fourth-line winger in Ottawa on Tuesday, though the betting is he eventually gets a shot at second-line centre with Nik Antropov moving to the wing.

"I'm hopeful that all those players in that fourth-line role realize we're getting a little healthier and we're not far away from decisions," Maurice said. "It will be based on performance, not: 'You had a great year for us last year and you can stay'. It has to be: 'You had a great weekend for us and you get to stay'. "


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