The biggest question in Toronto has now officially been answered: yes, the Toronto Maple Leafs can win a playoff series. And, in no small part is that victory the work of general manager Kyle Dubas. Dubas stuck with his core of stars and did a lot more than tinker at the trade deadline to give his team the best shot at beating the Tampa Bay Lightning, doing all of it without the guarantee of a contract extension in the bag.
But, with the win and the biggest hurdle now jumped in his tenure and any tenure of the players on the team, the Leafs will move on, trying to keep the momentum going. They’ll face the winner of the series between the Florida Panthers and Boston Bruins.
Dubas should be given a ton of credit for the work he did this past season. The question many will be asking is if this first-round win is enough to secure his future in Toronto. Or, do the Leafs need to win at least one more round for MLSE to offer him a huge chunk of change to stick around and not test the waters as a free-agent general manager who might be looking for a promotion? A few analysts who cover the Maple Leafs closely think this is all but a formality now.
Jonas Siegel of The Athletic writes:
Dubas entered the season without a contract beyond this season. The implicit message was clear: His team needed some kind of result in the playoffs before the organization would commit to him in the future. That’s done now. Assuming he wants to stick around, Dubas’ future as GM should be secure. His team has taken a step, just one, but a step no less when it mattered.
Head coach Sheldon Keefe gave Dubas a ton of credit for the roster he put together, adding toughness and grit, finding a quality goaltender in Ilya Samsonov, and rounding out the depth of the roster, including saving space for Matthew Knies, who looks like he’s going to be a player. He added veterans that contributed in Ryan O’Reilly and Luke Schenn, found quality replacements for injured players, and made incredible trades while keeping more of the depth and quality players on the roster.
James Mirtle of The Athletic writes, “… the young GM resisted the urge to “blow it up,” even as many in the city – and around the league, for that matter – gave up on this core group. He adds, “Dubas learned from his misfires and improved. Year after year, so did the Leafs.” And, isn’t that all the Leafs can hope for? Improvement? It seems crazy now to imagine the organization letting Dubas take offers from other teams that will have seen what he’s done in Toronto and relish the opportunity to bring him in and change their team’s fortunes.
There will be plenty of teams looking too. Whether it’s the Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, Calgary Flames, or any other franchises that might look for a new and fresh face to run their show, Dubas would be at the top of most teams’ lists.
Next: Three Takeaways from Maple Leafs Series-Clinching 2-1 OT Win
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April 30, 2023 at 1:14 pm
Management should be begging to extend Dubas. Other teams are waiting in the wings to snatch him up; maybe there’ll be a bidding war for his services. It wouldn’t be surprising to learn that it was Dubas (or a mutual agreement) who chose to postpone re-signing last summer.