i guess it's debatable, but i would take spezza, alfredsson, or michalek over any toronto forward and kuba, karlsson, gonchar, cowen over any toronto dman.
bottom line is, our forwards are better, defence is better, goaltending is better, coaching is better, management is better, scouting and drafting is better. can't pick one difference.
I think you're seriously undervaluing Phaneuf and Schenn. Phaneuf is very good, people just always expect more. Schenn is still young but is going to be a solid top 4 dman for much of his career. I'd rather have Phaneuf over Kuba or Gonch, and Schenn... well maybe not this year but 'going forward' he'd be a nice asset over those two as well.
MM over Kessel? I dunno... I sure like the guy a lot more than Kessel, better D and team guy from what I've heard... but hard to ignore Kessel's scoring which is a bit better than MM's IMO.
Ottawa has more pressure to win then the Leafs I think. The leafs are owned by a corporation, the sens by a single owner. Did anyone go to the games at the end of last year? There were like 3-5,000 unsold seats. If Ottawa is terrible and not playing exciting hockey they will only draw 15,000-16,000 fans, they team will lose money and the owner will fire coach and GM. In Toronto they make money and sell out regardless. Sure there is media pressure and fan pressure in Toronto but not ownership pressure. Ask Gonchar if there is fan pressure here, we booed him at season opener over a few bad road games to start the season (and previous year).
The difference is Bryan Murray both personally and because there was a continuation of management... From
Coach to GM. Burke got rid of EVERYONE!!! Literally. You can't do that to a hockey team and expect to predict if the team will gel. Both Murray and Burke picked poor choices for coach but at least Murray corrected himself twice... Burke just wouldn't until too late.
Conservative wins the race. Murray is patient and smart and while he gutted the team he did not get rid of everyone. You can't just trade for a phaneuf and make him captain. Maybe if it is Pronger but even that ruffles feathers. It is the in keeping Spezza, getting Michalek for Heatley and deftly getting karlsson in the draft. It is not trading our first rounders ever... We have a system... Even later 1sts pay off in Foligno, O'Brien.
Leafs 1st rounders that played for them this season: