No doubt about it, rookie general manager Kyle Dubas will have his work cut out for him in his first offseason as the Toronto Maple Leafs new boss. Not only does Dubas have to negotiate a new contract for sniper William Nylander, but he has pending unrestricted free agents James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak and Leo Komarov to worry about. Oh… and then there’s potential extensions for youngsters Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, as well. No matter how you look at it, Dubas will have some difficult decisions to make in the weeks leading up to free agency and this doesn’t even factor in the decisions that Dubas will have to make if he plans on improving his team… this is merely what needs to be done to maintain the status quo.
So… what’s the plan?
NHL.com’s Mike Zeisberger recently caught up with Dubas at the NHL Draft Combine and got the young GM to open up about his team’s plan for the upcoming 2018 NHL Entry Draft and what he thinks of the current trade market.
When asked whether or not he’d consider moving up in the draft from the 25th overall spot, Dubas didn’t back down from the idea. Check out his response:
“I think this is the lowest we’ve picked in my time with the Leafs. We picked fourth (in 2015), then first, then 17th and now 25th. I think we’re open to anything, moving up, moving down. We certainly have the requisite assets to move up. If there is a case to move down, we’ll have our conversations with other general managers in the League and get a sense of what they’re looking to do and then make our decisions as it comes along.”
Interesting. Makes you wonder what Dubas considers the “requisite assets” to move up. Would he considering swapping the 25th overall pick and the rights to either JVR or Bozak to move up in the draft? Or how about one of Toronto Marlies goaltenders Garret Sparks or Calvin Pickard? The pair have certainly proven that they’re NHL ready after the sparkling AHL regular season that they’ve both put up. In fact, both Sparks and Pickard are just three wins away from becoming Calder Cup champions. There’s little left for them to prove at the AHL level, but they’ll need Dubas to clear the runway for them via trade if they’re going to get a crack at a full-time NHL spot.
Whatever Dubas elects to do in the weeks leading up to the draft and free-agency, you can bet that the spotlight will be shining on him brightly. The 31 year old GM is perhaps under the most pressure of any NHL GM this offseason. Taking over from a legend like Lou Lamoriello in a market as demanding as Toronto is sure to be a tough task for the kid.