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Step aside, Mitch Marner.

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Okay, we kids.

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We don’t think Marner needs to worry about losing his spot on the Maple Leafs’ top line to the right of Austin Matthews.

Still, it should be encouraging for coach Sheldon Keefe and his staff to witness what Kale Jarnkrok accomplished on Saturday night alongside Matthews and Michael Bunting on the right wing.

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In the Leafs’ 4-2 preseason loss to the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Arena, Jarnkruk scored a pair of beautiful goals, showing a quick release.

Sure, it’s just exposure, but it’s the kind of offensive ability that Keef was talking about earlier in camp when he said Jarnkrok had the talent to play alongside Matthews or John Tavares. We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves — an ideal spot for Jarnkroek might be on the third line at right wing, where he’d provide an offensive punch at center alongside David Kempf — but the small sample size base he leaves. On debut, Jarnkrok can really move into the top six and be effective if needed.

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Not that Jarnkroek was lucky and had two shots off his bat in the second game of a doubleheader between the provincial rivals.

The Leafs must find a way to replace Ilya Mikheev’s 21 goals last season. Jarnkruk’s ability to get the puck off his stick with precision could potentially help.

Jarnkruk found the top of the net past Sens goalie Anton Forsberg at 1:07 of the second after taking a pass from Matthews. At 11:01, it was Bunting setting up Jarnkroek for a one-timer.

Jarnkrok, who signed a four-year, $8.4 million contract with Toronto in July, figures to be a must on special teams and was part of the Leafs’ first penalty-killing unit. When the Leafs went on the power play, Jarnkruk was on the ice.

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Also encouraging Saturday night: A positionally sound start from goalie Ilya Samsonov, who was in the Leafs net for the first two periods and stopped 16 shots he faced.

Matt Murray will have some trouble starting Wednesday against the Montreal Canadiens, and Samsonov has shown consistency since the regular season began. There was nothing to criticize in Samsonov’s debut, giving way to Keith Petrozzelli to make his third start as planned.

Ottawa scored at 4:49 of the final period when Angus Cruickshank beat Nick Abruzzi’s check past Petrozzelli.

Josh Norris tied the game at 13:20 on the power play, and Mark Kastelic scored the winner 22 seconds later. Tyler Motte scored into an empty net.

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The score was 0-0 after the first, though the Leafs held a decisive 10-3 advantage in shots on goal.

Veteran Kyle Clifford, slated for a spot with the Marlies, set up Matthews for the opening chance on a one-timer, and shortstop Bobby McMann was stopped by Forsberg on shortstop.

Bunting also had some good chances, and Nick Robertson made an impact on the boards.

Samsonov wasn’t busy in the opening 20 minutes but had to step up to make a save on Monday after a Sens effort deflected off McMann’s skate.

Loose leaves

Veteran defenseman Mark Giordano on the addition of Jordi Bean and Victor Matt to the blue line: “It’s huge. In all lineups, but especially on D, you need depth in the season. You know things. And those are two guys that have played a long time in the league, played a lot of games and we’re seeing how important it is to get depth early this year (with Jake Mozen and Timothy injured. Liljegren and an unsigned Rasmus Sandin). Most teams go through at least eight, nine defensemen a year. … The Leafs will meet the Senators in Belleville on Friday to close out preseason meetings between the clubs. The teams will play each other in four regular-season games in Toronto on Oct. 15, but won’t meet again at Scotiabank Arena until Jan. 27. “They’re going to be a lot different,” Leafs winger Wayne Simmonds said. There are some advanced capabilities added. (Cam) Talbot, (Alex) DeBrinquet and (Claude) Giroux in net, they look like they’re going to be a scary team. Every time we’ve played Ottawa since I’ve been here, they’ve given us a great run. We are looking to keep the game ahead. Even though it’s preseason, you want to let the other team know you’re going to be here all year.”

tkoshan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/koshtorontosun

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