Maple Leafs' Matthews, Marner, Nylander practice on different lines

Mark Blinch / National Hockey League / Getty

With the Toronto Maple Leafs' forward group being the healthiest it's ever been this season, head coach Sheldon Keefe is looking to spread around his team's star power.

Here's how the Leafs - who currently sit in third place in the Atlantic Division - lined up at practice Monday:

Franchise cornerstone Auston Matthews remained as the top-line center, but hardworking forward Ondrej Kase replaced Mitch Marner on his right wing. Captain John Tavares found himself between the red-hot Ilya Mikheyev and Marner, while William Nylander and Alex Kerfoot joined the defensively sound David Kampf on the third line.

"For me, it's about Matthews, Marner, and Nylander on three separate lines and getting a look at what that looks like, for both our team and how the opposition might look to contend with that," Keefe explained, according to the Toronto Star's Kevin McGran.

The third-year coach added that he's wanted to experiment with this look since training camp, but the team was never healthy enough to give it a go.

Despite the shuffle, Keefe emphasized that his star players' ice time won't change.

"I just like the ability to have lots of options," he said. "It's on me to manage the minutes, and that was my message, not just to Will, but to Mitch and Auston and John."

"There's no demotion here for anyone," Keefe added, according to Sportsnet's Luke Fox.

Nylander, who ranks second on the Leafs in points, has high hopes for the team's creative new look.

"I think it's a good way to spread out the guys on the team," he said, per McGran. "Me and Kerfoot had chemistry before and Kampf is a smart player and solid defensively, so I think that could be really good."

Meanwhile, Tavares is looking forward to reuniting with Marner, who played on his wing when he scored a career-high 88 points in his first season with the Leafs in 2018-19.

"(Marner's) ability to read the play and manipulate the opponent is as good as any winger in the game," Tavares said, per TSN.

He added: "As a linemate, you're just always trying to get open knowing that he's got eyes everywhere and he's gonna find you if you're open."

Toronto will practice with the same alignment Tuesday before Keefe makes a decision on Wednesday's lineup against the Anaheim Ducks.

Maple Leafs' Matthews, Marner, Nylander practice on different lines
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