Dupuis, Frattin are Leafs — for now

Maple Leafs forward Philippe Dupuis skates during practice on Monday. (DAVE THOMAS/QMI Agency)

Maple Leafs forward Philippe Dupuis skates during practice on Monday. (DAVE THOMAS/QMI Agency)

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:59 PM ET

TORONTO - Relief and joy swept over Matt Frattin and Philippe Dupuis when they arrived at the MasterCard Centre on Monday.

In the Leafs dressing room at the team’s practice facility, the sweaters of each player hung in their respective lockers, a clear indication they had cracked the 23-man roster.

But after practice, both discussed about the realities of their job situations. Neither has an iron-clad grip on a full-time spot.

“Nobody told me I had made the team, and I still have not made it, still a couple of injuries. And Clarke (MacArthur) is suspended (for the first two games),” Frattin said. “Every game, you get the opportunities, and you have to build from there and take advantage.”

Whether he was going to earn a roster spot with the Leafs didn’t keep Frattin worrying Sunday. Rather than sit around and stew, he joined several teammates at Colby Armstrong’s house to watch football.

Frattin has been playing in MacArthur’s spot on a line with centre Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin and is bound to start the season there. Frattin had been battling in camp with Nazem Kadri, who is out for up to a month with a knee injury, but might have won a job outright. Frattin, who made his NHL debut in the Leafs’ last game of the 2010-11 season, was tied for second in pre-season team scoring with five points (two goals and three assists). His speed is an asset, and it will be crucial to keep up with Grabovski and Kulemin. The 23-year-old Frattin’s versatility also made him stand out.

“Matty has done a really good job of playing in any role, left side, right side, he has killed some penalties and been on the power play,” coach Ron Wilson said. “With Clarke out, it’s a logical move to get him in the lineup.”

The picture is not as focused for Dupuis, who signed with Toronto in July after recording 17 points in 74 games for the Colorado Avalanche last season.

Dupuis practised with Colby Armstrong and MacArthur on Monday. If everyone was healthy and eligible to play, Dupuis would be on no more than the fourth line. There’s a chance Tim Connolly will play in the regular-season opener on Thursday, and Wilson said Matthew Lombardi will start on the fourth line. If Connolly is good to go, it will have to be determined where Dupuis fits in. Colton Orr or Jay Rosehill could be a healthy scratch.

When the Montreal Canadiens visit the Air Canada Centre, Lombardi will play in his first regular-season game since last Oct. 13, when he was with the Nashville Predators. In that game, Lombardi suffered a concussion against the Chicago Blackhawks.

“We could use his skating on the penalty kill,” Wilson said. “He just has to keep working on his timing and get that down. It’s going to be a while before he shakes all the rust off and gets used to the speed of the game.”

Orr was the 13th forward at practice. Lombardi skated with Mike Brown and Rosehill, while Tyler Bozak centred a line with wingers Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul.

With the myriad possibilities, Dupuis was assuming nothing. Like Darryl Boyce, the man he beat out of a job, Dupuis is on a two-way contract. But because the Leafs liked Dupuis’ penalty-killing skills, he slipped through ahead of Boyce.

“I’ve made the team, but it can change in a week,” Dupuis said. “I have to be on edge, because at any point they can send you down. It’s a battle throughout the entire year, and my first step is done. For right now, I’m happy to be here.

“It was a tight battle (with Boyce). I expect him to play good (with the Marlies) and (try to) get my spot. I have to keep working hard to keep mine.”

‘We are ready,’ Phaneuf says

Dion Phaneuf is taking a realistic view of the start to the Maple Leafs’ season.

“It’s no secret to us in this room that there is some juggling going on,” the Leafs captain said. “But that’s part of the business.

“I really like our team. It’s young, fast and to have success we have to play that way. We have to be on the go all the time. If we do that, we are going to be successful. The exhibition season has been long enough. Thursday is coming fast and we are ready for it.”

The plan is for Phaneuf to begin with Carl Gunnarsson as his defence partner.

“He blocks shots well, moves the puck well and skates well,” Phaneuf said. “I’m looking forward to it.”


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