Free washer | No insurance for Kyle Dubas


Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas has just received a serious warning from his bosses.

Posted at 10:28 a.m.

Mathias Brunet

Mathias Brunet
The Press

He was refused a contract extension this summer, even though his contract expires at the end of the season.

Dubas played the right princes Wednesday at the opening of training camp for the Leafs. He says he is aware of the precariousness of his position, after five consecutive eliminations in the first round – and even before during the playoffs in the Toronto bubble – since taking office.

Still stuck with the salary cap, Toronto didn’t improve during the offseason. Still looking for the perfect left winger to complete the trio of John Tavares and William Nylander, Victor Mete and Jordie Benn will fight for the position of sixth defender in the absence of injured Timothy Liljegren, and the two could form a third pair if young Rasmus Sandin doesn’t sign a contract by the end of training camp.

The situation in net raises a lot of questions, with a new duo formed by Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov. The Ottawa Senators were happy to get rid of Murray and his $6.2 million annual salary for another two years. They got nothing in return and even agreed to withhold 25% of his salary.

Former Washington Capitals goaltender Ilya Samsonov, 25, didn’t even receive a qualifying offer from his team after two disappointing seasons. He had to settle for a contract of only one year for 1.8 million.

In just over a year, Toronto lost number one goalie Frederik Andersen and then Jack Campbell to the free agent market. Campbell has just signed a five-year, $25 million contract with the Edmonton Oilers.

If the goaltenders hold up, the Maple Leafs won’t be any worse than last year. They still amassed 115 points in the regular season, for third place in the Eastern Conference, and fourth overall. But another first-round defeat could spell the end of Dubas and perhaps even shatter the core of the club.

The Leafs are still stuck with the ugly contract offered to John Tavares, 77 million for seven years, in July 2018, which inflated the cap and put rising stars Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner in a strong position for contract negotiations that they had to renew.

Since then, more than half of the total payroll has gone to four players, if you add William Nylander, and the Leafs have had to jettison salaries to meet the cap every year.

We also sacrificed several draft picks in recent seasons in the hope of finally getting through this first round.

Moreover, since Auston Matthews in 2016, only two players drafted and developed by the organization have joined the team, defenders Liljegren and Sandin. And again, the two were averaging 16 minutes per game behind the veteran.

Toronto traded its 2020 first-round pick to get rid of Patrick Marleau and his contract. The Hurricanes drafted Seth Jarvis at 13e rank. Jarvis, 20, had 40 points in 68 games with the Hurricanes last year on one of their top two lines.

The 2021 first-round pick was used to secure rental player Nick Foligno. His presence was not enough to eliminate the Canadian. Columbus drafted defenseman Corson Ceulemans at 25e rank with this choice.

In the repechage this summer, we fell 13 places, from 25e from the first round to 38e of the second round to get rid of Petr Mrazek and his 3.8 million contract. Still ceiling problems, and also, above all, a bad signing a year earlier. Chicago chose Sam Rinzel, Toronto Fraser Minten. To be continued.

The acquisition of Mark Giordano in March 2022 also cost two second-round picks (2022 and 2023 and a third-round pick in 2024). Giordano just agreed to a two-year contract extension for $800,000 a year, but how much gas does he have left in the tank? Apart from a game in overtime, Giordano, soon to be 39, did not play 20 minutes in the playoffs.

The Leafs will probably make the playoffs without a problem. Management stress, especially Dubas, will begin in early April. President Brendan Shanahan, probably behind all the decisions as well, will he also be beholden in the event of another hasty elimination?

Bold, Mr. Armstrong

Rarely will managers dare to talk about an adversary. The GM of the St. Louis Blues, Doug Armstrong, however dared, this week, when a colleague asked him if it was possible to dethrone his rivals, the Colorado Avalanche. “They have a different club this year. They no longer have (Nazem) Kadri. Their keeper is (Darcy Kuemper) gone. They begin to feel the effects of the ceiling like the others. They’re still extremely talented, so they still have one of the best teams, but not light years ahead like last year. The salary cap weakened them a bit. »

Is it really a good idea to motivate the opponent like this?



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