Ron Wilson is very much in mad scientist mode with his forward lines.
But two players bound to get a second look are centre Dominic Moore and left winger Ryan Hollweg, who once played together for the New York Rangers. On a line last night with Marlies captain Ben Ondrus, the duo was the nucleus of Wilson's desired energy line.
"We're trying to experiment, but there's a good chance they'll open there," Wilson said after last night's 7-4 win over the Buffalo Sabres. "I'd never really seen Dominic play (he did have a summer heart-to-heart with the unrestricted free agent to get him to re-sign in Toronto), but I was impressed with his speed, how he took the puck to the net and how he killed penalties."
Moore was plus-three, scored twice and won 11-of-15 draws. Wilson insisted the Rangers connection didn't inspire him to play the two together, but Moore called Hollweg "a shot in the arm" on the line.
Hollweg had a team-high five hits last night, drawing the fists of Buffalo enforcer Andrew Peters in the first.
The Leafs also rolled out Luke Schenn, Jeff Finger and Mike Van Ryn on defence, but it will be a challenge for Wilson to see all newcomers and prospects in game situations before the 60-man camp is cut.
Rules stipulate teams must dress at least eight veterans from the previous season, according to a formula of games played in the NHL and American Hockey League, with first and second-round picks such as Schenn counted among the eight.
NINE PRE-SEASON TILTS
Toronto has nine pre-season games, but three of those are on consecutive days, Oct. 3-5. The collective bargaining agreement prevents players from being utilized in more than two straight appearances. Wilson went with 13 "name" players last night in the free admission game versus the Sabres.
Schenn was paired with Finger, as Wilson hoped a veteran would calm any nerves the rookie had in his first game. Outside of some slow puck retrievals, Wilson was happy with Schenn, though it's still a long shot that the first-round pick will earn a top four spot and stick.
"I've been told by (Leafs goalie coach) Corey Hirsch. who saw him at the world championships, that he likes to dip his toe in the water first before diving in and then once he's comfortable, away he goes," Wilson said. "I've got to get him comfortable."