Toronto Maple Leafs’ GM Kyle Dubas may stubbornly stick to his plan to build his team as a top-six heavy squad that plays mediocre defense and tries to outscore the opposition. But, after a Game 5 loss to a Columbus Blues Jackets team that employs a completely different style of game, many are wondering if this is the right approach. In fact, pundits and fans have been wondering this for some time.
Dubas will have no choice but to at least contemplate a deal that will send one of his big four out of Toronto. Had the Maple Leafs won the draft lottery on Monday, the decision would have been easy. But, the New York Rangers drew the lucky lottery ball and the Maple Leafs will now have to consider moving a star forward without one to replace him.
The most talked-about named over the past 24 hours has been Mitch Marner.
Why Move Mitch Marner?
Part of the reason for moving anyone is that far too much money is tied up in four forwards. At the expense of the blue line, a tighter salary cap this coming season will handcuff the Maple Leafs who would be forced to hire cheap help on defense and you can’t win playoff hockey that way.
As for why Marner, the money combined his lack of five-on-five production seems to be the main starting points for a discussion.
During Monday’s Writers Bloc show on FAN590, Elliotte Freidman hinted that Marner could get moved for blue line help, but interestingly, doesn’t think Marner alone would be enough. If the Maple Leafs were looking to land a stud on defense like a Seth Jones, Marner won’t get it done. Friedman believes the team would need to add a draft pick.
Toronto Stars’ Dave Feschuk weighed in as well and said:
… because if general manager Kyle Dubas is going to do something about a defensive corps that’s clearly lacking, moving Marner’s $10.9-million (U.S.) cap hit would go some distance in providing the headroom to add quality blue-line help.
To Wait or Not to Wait
Discussions about trades coming out of Toronto will likely flood the newsfeeds and rumor mills but conversation will still exists as to whether or not Dubas will actually pull the trigger on a deal.
He may not have a choice.
Some are suggesting he’s not ready to abandon his plan and the offseason may pass without a change. Friedman said on Sportsnet: “I do believe in a perfect world Kyle Dubas would give his big 4 one more year…this has been a bit of a strange finish, I think that’s what he would like to do.”
But, that the team only scored three 5v5 goals the entire series against the Blue Jackets, that their defense is suspect and possibly losing two key players in Cody Ceci and Tyson Barrie, and that the flat cap won’t make it any easier to replace them can’t be ignored.
“There’s going to have to be a long conversation whether that still is the plan,” Friedman said.
Dubas may have to choose. Either move one or proceed as you have been. The latter doesn’t seem to be working and that mistake could cost Dubas his job.
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