The Toronto Maple Leafs are still reeling. Fallout is likely to occur after blowing a 3-1 series lead to the Montreal Canadiens. What exactly will GM Kyle Dubas do? Or will he even be there to do it?
Maple Leafs fallout
The postmortem going on today in Toronto is crazy. Editorials about whose to blame are filling up papers not only in the province of Ontario but all of Canada. Everyone has something to say and most of the focus is on Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner.
Matthews, this year’s Maurice Rocket Richard winner scored one goal this series. Meanwhile, Marner hasn’t scored a playoff goal in 18 games. There is of course the devastating injury to John Tavares in Game 1 as well. Still, these failures all have one single thread in common – Kyle Dubas.
I feel for Dubas. He really tried to bring in those pieces many said were lacking in the failed iterations that preceded this one. He brought in free agents Joe Thornton and Wayne Simmonds. Dubas even traded for Nick Foligno at the deadline. All of them way past their prime and ineffective. The three of them combined for a total of three points in this series.
At some point, he’s going to have to pay the price. Sheldon Keefe may also be a byproduct of that dismissal. Jim Rutherford is out there to be GM, as is Jeff Gorton. There are also some excellent coaching candidates like Gerard Gallant, John Tortorella, and Rick Tocchet.
If the Leafs want to shake things up, the time is now.
“Our guys were quite devastated,” Keefe said. “Despite not having John [Tavares], despite not having Nick [Foligno, at full health], we were in a good spot and didn’t close it out. We added enough pieces and depth and things like that to be able to deal with those types of situations. There’s zero excuses.”Sportsnet
Trading Mitch Marner may be necessary
When you look at the Maple Leafs roster, you see a lot of high priced players and very little playoff production. John Tavares makes $11 million and has a NMC, so he’s going nowhere. Matthews is the highest paid Leaf at $11.6 and is one of the best players in the NHL, which takes him out of the equation.
That leaves you with Mitch Marner at $10.9 million and Willam Nylander at $6.9 million. In fairness to Nylander, he was far and away Toronto’s best player with 8 points. If I’m Dubas, or the next GM of the Leafs, I may be looking to move Marner’s huge contract immediately. One team to call is the Blue Jackets. An exchange for a package starring Seth Jones would help fill a lot a huge hole in that lineup.
Marner’s contract doesn’t have a no-move clause, so there’s nothing to stop a trade there. The Blue Jackets, who have a problem attracting top stars would get a 24 year-old scoring forward with four years remaining on his deal. This is pure spitballing, but has anything Dubas’ done worked to date? The Stanley Cup drought in Toronto is still on, making that answer a big fat no.
The bottom line is that Toronto needs to switch this up. Jake Muzzin isn’t getting any younger on defense at 32. Same for TJ Brodie who is 30. They need to reshape that blue-line and bring in some fresh blood to change their one dimensional dynamic.
And another reason to shed Marner’s salary – retain Zach Hyman. He’s more of what they need, Marner may be just too much of what they already have.
Good Luck Leafs.