Kadri to play tonight

Leafs first-round pick Nazem Kadri will play in tonight's pre-season opener. (Sun Media/Dave Thomas)

Leafs first-round pick Nazem Kadri will play in tonight's pre-season opener. (Sun Media/Dave Thomas)

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 1:49 PM ET

Plenty of beef, hot-shot college grads and Nazem Kadri are on the menu as the Maple Leafs begin the NHL pre-season tonight.

Toronto opens against the Boston Bruins at home with the braun of Jay Rosehill, Andre Deveaux, Phil Oreskovic, Garnet Exelby and Colton Orr, with Orr and Wayne Primeau flanking rookie centre Kadri as bodyguards.

Coach Ron Wilson is not advocating his new-look team coming out swinging against the big, bad Bruins but Toronto loaded up on bigger players for a reason.

“We told our young guys no fighting in the pre-season (Leafs' camp), to save it for the exhibition games,” Wilson said. “I know you (media) guys are excited there will be fighting but we want to make sure these guys can play, too.”

Wilson said Kadri will play both tonight and Thursday in his hometown of London, Ont., when Toronto takes on the Philadelphia Flyers. Kadri was a star for the OHL London Knights.

The other Leaf forward lines will feature a college trio of Christian Hanson, Tyler Bozak and Viktor Stalberg, all of whom did well at the rookie camp, with Jason Allison’s comeback attempt starting alongside Jiri Tlusty and Nikolai Kulemin. Tlusty has been needled by Wilson to do better than he’s shown in camp so far.

John Mitchell will centre the bruising duo of Deveaux and Rosehill, both of them well-known pugilists in the American Hockey League, with Deveaux seeing time with the Leafs last season.

On defence, Exelby is trying to show he can stick in the top six, while Ian White also gets a chance to show he can stay on the team with the additions of Francois Beauchemin (who also in the lineup tonight) and Mike Komisarek.

Vesa Toskala gets the start tonight, but coming off a six-month layoff from two off-season surgeries, Wilson doesn’t want him playing anymore than half a game against the Bruins, leading to a full 60 minutes Saturday against the Flyers at home. Joey MacDonald, who will get some unexpected playing time with Jonas Gustavsson undergoing minor heart surgery, will play tonight.

Tonight’s lineup


Forwards

Wayne Primeau, Nazem Kadri, Colton Orr

Viktor Stalberg, Tyler Bozak, Christian Hanson

Nikolai Kulemin, Jason Allison, Jiri Tlusty

Andre Deveaux, John Mitchell, Jay Rosehill


Defence

Francois Beauchemin and Jeff Finger

Garnet Exelby and Ian White

Jonas Frogren and Phil Oreskovic


Goal

Vesa Toskala and Joey MacDonald


Photos