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Switch to center an exciting idea for van Riemsdyk

Wednesday, 07.11.2012 / 3:33 PM / NHL Insider

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Switch to center an exciting idea for van Riemsdyk
James van Riemsdyk on his probable shift to center this season in Toronto: "It is something that will be a good opportunity for me."

James van Riemsdyk told reporters in Toronto on Wednesday morning that he's prepared to make the shift from the wing to center with the Maple Leafs this season.

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"It is something that will be a good opportunity for me," said van Riemsdyk, who is in town instructing at the Leafs' hockey school at the MasterCard Centre. "I have played it a little bit in the past, and any time you can be a little more versatile as a player, it is definitely a good thing. I'm excited about that."

The 23-year-old said that before leaving the Flyers for the Leafs in a June trade that sent defenseman Luke Schenn to Philadelphia, there wasn't much of an opportunity to play center. The Flyers had depth down the middle last season with Claude Giroux and Danny Briere playing major minutes at the position.

In Toronto, van Riemsdyk will get that chance entering training camp. Coach Randy Carlyle said he wants to use the 6-foot-3, 200 pounder in the middle, perhaps on the top line with Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul.

Van Riemsdyk played center at the University of New Hampshire, so he has some familiarity with the position.

"It's about getting that comfort (level) back with the position," van Riemsdyk said. "When you are used to something it is second nature, so when you are out there not thinking and just playing, that is when you are at your best. Just be a matter of getting some reps in there and (I'm) sure I will be fine."

Last season, van Riemsdyk had 11 goals and 13 assists in 43 games. He missed extended time with a concussion after posting 21 goals and 19 assists in 75 games in 2010-11.

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