When the Maple Leafs acquired James van Riemsdyk last June, the conventional thinking was that the big winger would play with Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul.

In a round-about, sort-of way, that looks like it will happen on Tuesday night in Buffalo.

Not with Lupul, mind you, as the winger is nursing a fractured forearm and won't be in the lineup any time soon.

But van Riemsdyk could help light the goal-scoring fuse under Kessel, who has yet to hit paydirt through the Leafs' first five games of the abbreviated 2012-13 regular season.

With Lupul out of the picture for the time being and Clarke MacArthur dealing with the pain, swelling and infection worries that come with losing a fingernail, van Riemsdyk practised with Kessel and centre Tyler Bozak on Monday in preparation for Ryan Miller and the rest of the Sabres.

"Offensive players like to play with offensive players who have the same mind-set," Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said. "(Van Riemsdyk) just has to make a complement to the group.

"He has a specific skill-set that matches him up with our offensive players, and through injuries to Lupul and MacArthur, we are forced to make changes in that grouping.

"Like to see him go out and make a few big body checks and be on the puck more than he has been in the last couple of games. That's for the whole team (to do)."