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Grading Treliving’s Work In Second Season as Maple Leafs’ GM

Now in his second summer as the GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs, how should Brad Treliving be graded for the work he’s done?

In his first year as general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Brad Treliving kept the Core Four, but made other changes to the roster, particularly at forward. Starting with the 2023 NHL Draft, — even though Treliving wasn’t at the draft table due to a term of his departure from Calgary — the team selected Easton Cowan in the first round. Extending William Nylander‘s contract for eight years was one of the first big moves Treliving made. With the signing, he proved he was keeping the team’s core four despite the high cap hit and lack of playoff success under their leadership. From there, the GM signed interesting players, some of which worked out and many of which did not.

Treliving Was Hit and Miss With Many of His Decisions

A massive overpayment, Ryan Reaves was added on a three-year deal to bring toughness. Within months, Reaves was a healthy scratch. So too, a one-year contract with John Klingberg backfired due to a season-ending injury. However, signing Tyler Bertuzzi and Max Domi to one-year deals proved beneficial, as both players brought physicality and scoring ability. Domi re-signed with the team this offseason. Bertuzzi bolted for a better deal with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Brad Treliving Brendan Shanahan Maple Leafs

Throughout the season, Treliving executed key trades to help with the playoff run. He acquired Ilya Lyubushkin and Joel Edmundson to bolster the blue line depth, providing stability and depth. An interesting idea, but it didn’t help the team as Treliving’s version of the Maple Leafs once again made the playoffs but failed to get past the first round.

Continued Offseason Changes This Season

This offseason, Treliving focused first on hiring a new coach and then on revamping the roster, particularly the defensive unit. Despite speculation about major changes, the team maintained its core of star forwards. Hiring head coach Craig Berube introduced fresh leadership, and he seems excited to work with this group. Adjustments to the bottom six forwards improved depth and support and the defense was overhauled with new players adding size and defensive awareness. Chris Tanev was the big get, and Oliver Ekman-Larsson adds experience. Jani Hakanpaa‘s signing hasn’t been made official and he could turn out to be the next Klingberg.

One bold move was relying on two inexperienced goalies. Joseph Woll emerged as the starter after signing an extension, and Anthony Stolarz was signed as his backup. This gamble reflects Treliving’s belief in young talent’s potential to contribute meaningfully. Whether Woll can stay healthy is another story and if Stolarz can handle the pressure of more games is not yet known.

Despite extensive changes, the Core Four—Matthews, Nylander, Mitch Marner, and John Tavares—remained intact, sparking debate about the team’s salary cap allocation. There has been chatter of a Marner trade, but signs are pointing to him starting the season with the team. The decision to retain them might not have been entirely voluntary, influenced by contract leverage and timing.

Evaluating Treliving’s Impact: An Overall Grade as GM

Under Treliving’s leadership, the Maple Leafs have undergone significant transformation. That said, change isn’t always a good thing if the thing that really needs changing isn’t touched.

Last season’s strategic draft picks and free agent signings laid a strong foundation, and this offseason’s bold moves aim to build on it. The problem is, the Core Four remain the team’s backbone, and no supporting cast has been able to make up for the fact Toronto continues to rely on players who aren’t producing when it matters most.

As the Maple Leafs head into the 2024-25 season, the true test of Treliving’s efforts will be their playoff performance. If his combination of new players and a new coach makes all the difference, it will be a pleasant surprise. Treliving’s gamble on retaining the Core Four, along with more signings that haven’t worked out than those that did, give him an overall grade of C.

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