The Toronto Maple Leafs have made a lot of changes this offseason, so when they face the Buffalo Sabres this coming season, it’ll be a whole new team hitting the ice. Before we look at anything else – first, let’s take a look at all of those changes.
The Toronto Maple Leafs made two “big” trades this offseason; the first involved moving Matt Frattin and Ben Scrivens to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for goaltender Jonathan Bernier. The second trade: trading draft picks to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Dave Bolland. The swapping of Scrivens for Bernier will throw a wrench into the Leafs’ goaltending situation, and the addition of recent-Cup-winner Bolland will add some experience to the Leafs roster.
Through free agency, the Toronto Maple Leafs added David Clarkson, who’s been the talk of the town as of late. They also added former Buffalo Sabres defenseman T.J. Brennan, who may or may not end up in the AHL this season.
The biggest rout of the team was through free agency, as the Leafs lost Mike Komisarek, Clarke MacArthur, Ryan Hamilton, Joe Colborne, Mike Kostka and Mikhail Grabovski (buyout). That’s a lot of players to lose in one offseason; Hamilton could easily have played full-time in the NHL this season as he joined the team from the Marlies last year.
No matter how you look at it, losing six players – eight if you look at trades – is a big deal, and it’s definitely going to be a different-looking team come this season.
It’ll take over a month into the NHL season before the Leafs and Sabres face off, as the teams begin with a home-and-home series on November 15 (in BUF) and 16. They’ll meet again in Buffalo on November 29, then less than a month later on December 27 in Toronto. If that’s not enough, the teams will face each other in Toronto on January 15 for the fifth and final meeting of the season. Wowza.
The Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres met four times during the lockout-shortened season, with each team winning a pair of games. Buffalo won the first meeting 2-1, with Toronto taking the next in overtime, 4-3. The Leafs won the third meeting 3-1 before the Sabres stole a six-round shootout win via Steve Ott on March 21 to capture a 5-4 victory.
Players to Watch
- TORONTO: One player to watch for is Nazem Kadri, provided he re-signs with the Leafs. Kadri has had eight points in nine NHL games against the Sabres, so if he rejoins the Leafs – or wherever he ends up – he’ll be one to watch. Newcomer David Clarkson has nine points in 22 games against Buffalo, but he’ll be an interesting addition to the Leafs and could fit nicely there. Tyler Bozak has 10 points in 15 games against the Sabres, and James Van Riemsdyk has 7 points in 13 games versus Buffalo.
- BUFFALO: Here’s five Buffalo Sabres players to watch out for against the Toronto Maple Leafs this season: first up, a trio of players who have averaged a point per game against the Leafs in their NHL careers: Thomas Vanek (47/47), Marcus Foligno (6/6) and Alexander Sulzer (4/4). Two others to watch are Tyler Ennis and Christian Ehrhoff, who have each scored 11 points in 14 games against the Leafs in their respective careers.
Meetings This Season
- November 15 @ BUF
- November 16 @ TOR
- November 29 @ BUF
- December 27 @ TOR
- January 15 @ TOR