As promised, the door was open for some of the younger players to go out and steal jobs, which is exactly what Viktor Stalberg has done this preseason. After leading the team with six preseason goals, the rookie will lineup Thursday on the top unit with Matt Stajan and Jason Blake
"I obviously took someone's spot. They'll want to take that back soon so it's going to be a battle all season," Stralberg said. "If I want to stay up here I'm going to keep working the way I have been the last couple of weeks."
The odd men out at this point are Nicolai Kulimen and Jiri Tlusty. Both came into camp with jobs to lose and, at least for now, have lost them.
"They haven't earned a spot," Wilson said of the pair. "Other people have played ahead of them. We've got plenty of veterans up front. You look at what Stalberg has done is knock Kulimen off one of the top two lines."
Another guy who fell just short of making the team is Tyler Bozak. While he did open a lot of eyes during camp, there's simply not enough room for him to begin the season with the big club, leaving Wilson with few options
"He'll probably have to go down because of numbers. Based on the way played in training camp he's certainly worthy of playing in the NHL but we may not have room at the beginning."
Bozak had to know the writing was on the wall when practice began and he saw he wasn't skating on any of the top four lines, but the 23-year-old took the news in stride.
"You'd love to be playing Thursday night and you'd love to be on one of those lines," Bozak explained. "But like they've said anytime you can get called back up and be in the lineup so just take it day by day and hopefully get in as soon as possible."
Bozak, along with the rest of players who won't suit up Thursday, had better keep ready because the coach won't hesitate to shake thngs up if the guys on the big club don't perform out of the gate.
NOTES: Mike Komisarek (hamstring) didn't skate Tuesday but does expect to play Thursday ... Jeff Finger (oblique) and Jamal Mayers (suspected concussion) both practiced bit neither is expected in Thursdays lineup ... Joey Macdonald has been placed on waivers
Here's how the Leafs lineup should look Thursday night:
Courtesy Rogers Sportsnet