Ottawa Senators vs Toronto Maple Leafs; An Early Look At The Battle Of Ontario


One of my favourite topics to write about is the Toronto Maple Leafs. They’ve been such a fun team to follow over the past decade or so, especially from the perspective of an opposing fan base.

While the fact is that the Leafs may now have a management group who has begun to make some smart choices, they traded away their best player this off-season and don’t project to be contenders any time soon. This post is to compare the NHL rosters as they stand today, heading into the start of the season.

First, beginning with the forwards

The Leafs have made a few moves with their forward group. In fact, if you are comparing their roster to the one they iced for game 82, just James Van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak, Joffrey Lupul, Nazem Kadri, and Peter Holland are returnees.

They’ve added some nice depth. Their 3rd line projects to include Shawn Matthias, Nick Spaling, and Mark Arcobello, all guys who have flirted with 15-20 goals in the past. That’s some nice depth. They made similar moves last year and ended up flipping many of the signed players for draft picks. That includes Daniel Winnik, who has returned and Mike Santorelli, a current UFA. The same approach could be taken close to this year’s deadline.

I’m not a huge fan of P.A. Parenteau, but with Phil Kessel gone he projects to play on their top line. But at the same time, there’s bound to be tons of movement in the Leafs’ lineup with many guys who can play up and down the roster.

The Senators, unlike the Maple Leafs are set to have a very similar roster this season. The only moves have been subtractions as David Legwand and Erik Condra both parted ways this off-season. This allows for a bit of movement and for youngsters Pageau, Lazar and Puempel to compete for full-time spots.

JGP was brilliant down the team’s late season run and projects to be a good energy player for the Senators. Milan Michalek will probably play on a line with him as well as Curtis Lazar. It’s a young line, but proved to be invaluable late last season.

The Senators’ top 6 is light years ahead of the Maple Leafs’.

With the departure of Phil Kessel, the Senators’ top 6 is light years ahead of the Maple Leafs’. Mark Stone highlights the group, and Kyle Turris is expecting another career year.

Bobby Ryan is expected to bounceback along with former Maple Leaf, Clarke MacArthur as both are expected to be big pieces for the Senators.

Ottawa’s forward group has the edge in the top 6, and the Leafs win based on depth. Quite honestly, I’m jealous of some of the moves the Leafs have made, as I’d much rather have guys like Spaling, Matthias, and even Beck over players like Zack Smith and Alex Chiasson.


Neither of these defences are awfully impressive, however, the Senators have something called Erik Karlsson working in their favour.

Dion Phaneuf could be back in Toronto after speculation only pointed towards a trade for a few months. Other than Phaneuf, who had a terrible season in 14-15, the Leafs have Morgan Rielly, a stud defender in the making, and Jake Gardiner, a player whose ceiling hasn’t been seen.

Players like the newly acquired Martin Marincin, 2nd year leaf Roman Polak and sophomore Andrew MacWilliam fill out what’s probably in the bottom 50% among NHL team defences.

Update: Thanks to a commenter, it was pointed out that Andrew MacWilliam recently signed with the Winnipeg Jets. He’s still 25 and could be a future depth piece. At this point, the Leafs will likely look internally to fill their defensive depth. 

The Ottawa Senators, like the Leafs, don’t have a great group either. The subtraction of Eric Gryba opens a spot and fans are excited to see what Chris Wideman can do given his AHL numbers. Marc Methot is steady and Patrick Wiercioch could have a big year.

Perhaps there is potential to see some improvement this year, but the Sens still miss the solid top 4 depth they need to become a contender.


In net, the Maple Leafs have an area of steadiness. Jonathan Bernier is the team’s number one guy and after a rocky 14-15 campaign, he projects to be much better. Or at least his past .922 13-14 performance seems to suggest.

He still needs a contract, but as an RFA, there isn’t much worry there. Behind Bernier is James Reimer, a guy who held a .907% sv% last season and projects to be a solid back up, capable of 20-35 games once again.

The Ottawa Senators have a pretty interesting tandem heading into 2015-16. It’s really unknown what Andrew Hammond’s consistent level at the NHL is and Craig Anderson is certainly the best goaltender among the 4 above.

With Hammond, the Senators have a real wild card. A worst case scenario would be that they have a pretty solid backup, but as his numbers, and his play from last season would suggest, there’s potential he could be more. Either way, Anderson is one of the league’s best when he’s at the height of his game.

Goaltending seems pretty steady and it certainly was last year. Now, in 2015-16, the Senators will need another solid year in the crease and with Andrew Hammond pushing Craig Anderson, perhaps more than Robin Lehner did.. we might just see that.


The Ottawa Senators made the playoffs last year. They have a pretty formidable group up front, but need some improvements on the back-end. The Toronto Maple Leafs are a similar story, but with a lack of quality in the top 6. However, with youngsters like William Nylander, Mitch Marner and Kasperi Kapanen soon to arrive, that looks to be changing.

Both teams need help on defence as both groups are around average or below average.

The Sens could make the playoffs this season, there’s a strong possibility. If the group stays healthy, the forward do their jobs all 82 games and the defence doesn’t falter, there’s a legitimate chance.

At this point, the edge definitely goes to the Ottawa Senators. As I said, the top 6 group is very far ahead of the Maple Leafs and although the Maple Leafs made some smart depth additions, it’s hard to see them out-performing many of the teams in the Atlantic Division.

Next: Why Was Eric Gryba Traded?

More from SenShot