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Depth Forward Battle Front And Center In Leafs Split With Sens

September 24, 2022, 10:16 PM ET [42 Comments]
Mike Augello
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The Toronto Maple Leafs have very few spots on their roster where there is a legitimate battle, but both players and head coach Sheldon Keefe in the opening days of training camp have indicated that there are open spots on the third or fourth line, which means that standout performances in preseason games could be the difference between making the NHL and starting the season in the American Hockey League.

In the Leafs 4-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday afternoon, Marlies forward Alex Steeves, import Denis Malgin, veteran Wayne Simmonds and camp invitee Zach Aston-Reese all made positive impressions.

Steeves, who scored 23 goals in his first professional season after three years at Notre Dame, scored on a deflection of a Mark Giordano shot in the second period and added an empty net goal.

Toronto responded to an early Ottawa goal from Tim Stutzle with three tallies in a span of 2:14 in the middle frame. Some hard work from Simmonds resulted in Justin Holl’s tying goal. The veteran forward was noticeable, throwing his body around, as was Aston-Reese, who tied Simmonds with four hits in less than 16 minutes of ice time.

Malgin, who signed a one-year deal with Toronto after two seasons in Switzerland, could not convert on an excellent scoring chance set up by William Nylander in the first period, but hit the twine in the middle frame.

In the 4-2 loss to the Sens on Saturday night, Calle Jarnkrok scored both goals playing the wing on a line with Auston Matthews and Michael Bunting, which may give the Leafs hierarchy some options when the regular season comes in regards to playing the recent free agent signing in the top six and moving players like Pierre Engvall or Alex Kerfoot to the bottom six to play a more defensive role.


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