Mike Kostka is five games into his NHL career with the Maple Leafs and the 27-year-old has made a vital observation.

"Guys are multi-dimensional, and there are more of them who are," he said of the biggest adjustment from playing in the American Hockey League.

"Usually in the American league, if you are going up against a really good forward, maybe he has a really good shot but is not a great skater. Maybe he is big and fast, and does not have great hands. You get to (the NHL), the top lines, these guys are the full package."

Kostka, averaging 25 minutes 44 seconds a game playing beside captain Dion Phaneuf, already has faced Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, John Tavares and Rick Nash. The next player at that level in Kostka's sights is Alex Ovechkin, who will be at the Air Canada Centre on Thursday with the Washington Capitals.

"Thrown right into the deep end," Kostka said. "I accept all the challenges that come to me. If you want to play in this league, every night you are going to be going up against top guys."