It had to have been a difficult job taking over from former general manager (GM) Kyle Dubas when Brad Treliving came into the Toronto Maple Leafs. It happened so quickly, that he really didn’t have much time to perform much magic. But he did get things done.
However, at the same time, he had to do some important things – and quickly. One of the key things he did was to sign Auston Matthews to a four-year extension. Now that that’s completed, there’s more work to continue to do. Obviously, William Nylander’s contract extension might have to wait until later. We’ll see how that goes as the season unfolds.
Treliving Made Moves that Strengthened the Team
From my perspective, Treliving did a number of things to strengthen the team. He brought in secondary scoring and he got a potential offensive defenceman who could really move the puck when he was good. He added some physicality. He made some bold moves that made his team competitive for this season’s Stanley Cup.
For this season’s iteration of the Maple Leafs, the future is now. Given that perspective, he also didn’t overthink what made the team good in the regular season. While he didn’t make any huge moves (at least we don’t think so yet – because, if Klingberg shows amazingly well, that could be a game-changer), he added a couple of defensemen who could help.
And there’s a good chance, as I noted just above, that with this Maple Leafs team, Klingberg could become really good again. If he does, watch out NHL.
What Treliving Did Right this Offseason
And the rest of this post, I’ll comment on three things that I believe Treliving did right this offseason as the Maple Leafs’ general manager.
Right Move #1: He Didn’t Go Crazy and Just Make Changes
Treliving could have blown it all up, and many fans would have been happy enough about that. Yet, he didn’t. Instead, he adopted a measured approach to rebuilding (rather, reshaping) the Maple Leafs’ roster.
Treliving’s approach focused on making considered decisions rather than making sweeping changes for the sake of change. By evaluating the team’s needs and staying true to the existing successful identity, Treliving ensured that the team’s core strengths were preserved.
The one thing that this team’s core almost assures is making the postseason. After that, as teams know, it can be a crapshoot. There’s always luck (or a hot goalie) involved.
Right Move #2: He Strengthened the Defense
Despite not having the most star-studded defensive lineup, the Maple Leafs under Treliving’s leadership managed to maintain the kind of solid defensive statistics that carried over from last season. The team was in the top 10 for NHL defenses last season. That’s enough to get a team to the postseason.
Yet, almost except for Rasmus Sandin, Treliving kept the same group together. He also added two (perhaps) key defensemen. One is Klingberg and the other is Simon Benoit. Although everyone seems to be dumping on Benoit, I’d encourage holding off one’s judgment for a time. Playing on the Anaheim Ducks is NOT like playing for this Maple Leafs’ team.
Achieving a top-eight ranking in goals against shows the team’s commitment to shoring up the defense and ensuring that the team can effectively prevent opponents from scoring.
Right Move #3: He Focused on Strategic Player Development
Treliving’s approach involves nurturing and developing existing talent within the team. He also brought in top-six secondary scoring; yet, at the same time, he left some room for AHL Toronto Marlies players to have some space to make the team. There’s room for young forwards to rise up this season.
By emphasizing the potential for improvement in players like Jake McCabe and Timothy Liljegren, Treliving ensures that the team’s defensive core continues to grow and adapt. His strategic focus on player development can contribute to long-term success.
The Bottom Line on Brad Treliving
In summary, Treliving’s offseason actions were a measured and strategic approach to rebuilding the Maple Leafs’ roster. First, he prioritized preserving the team’s identity. Second, he made subtle changes that might strengthen the team’s defensive performance. Third, he fostered the growth of existing talent.
All three of these things bode well (I believe) for allowing the team to win during the upcoming season. He’s pretty much assured the team will make the postseason. After that, well who knows?
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