Toronto Maple Leafs: Kyle Dubas Best and Worst Moves as GM

Toronto Maple Leafs - Kyle Dubas and Brendan Shanahan at the draft (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Toronto Maple Leafs - Kyle Dubas and Brendan Shanahan at the draft (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
2 of 3
TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 4: John Tavares #91 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Colorado Avalanche during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on December 4, 2019 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Avalanche defeated the Maple Leafs 3-1. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON – DECEMBER 4: John Tavares #91 of the Toronto Maple Leafs  . (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

Kyle Dubas’ Best Moves

Signing John Tavares

Just two short months after being hired, Kyle Dubas went out and made it known to Leafs fans that he wasn’t going to shy away from making this Maple Leafs team immediately more competitive, and signed John Tavares to a seven-year, $77 million contract.

While this move would definitely complicate the cap situation for this team, this was the first major free agent signing for the Toronto Maple Leafs in 20+ years, and his 47 goal performance in his first year with the club helped relieve some of the stress moving forward.

While not putting up the same amount of goals that he has this season, Tavares has found other ways to impact the game and remain offensively consistent. Despite missing some time due to injury, Tavares recorded 60 points through 63 games, good enough for third on the Maple Leafs in scoring.

With this signing, Kyle Dubas added one of the best centres in the league to a roster with an already all-star caliber centre in Auston Matthews, and placed him alongside one of the best playmakers in the league in Mitch Marner.

While their potential hasn’t translated to postseason success just yet, at the time, many fans were all-in on the Maple Leafs making a deep playoff run, and that is exactly the type of excitement and competitiveness you want to instill on your fanbase for a first impression as general manager.

Firing Mike Babcock/Hiring Sheldon Keefe

Say what you will about who you believe had the final say in the decision to fire Mike Babcock, but there was definitely a mutual agreement between President Brendan Shanahan and Kyle Dubas to move on from the culture and mindset that Babcock was bringing into the locker room, and I bet the only regret they had was that they didn’t do it sooner.

Hiring Mike Babcock in the spring of 2015 was one of the first major managerial decisions that altered the course of this Maple Leafs team for the seasons ahead. Unfortunately as time passed and the team continued to become younger, the beliefs of how this franchise was going to be run outgrew Babcock’s dated philosophies, and his coaching methods created some tension in the Leafs locker room that was well documented after he was fired.

Sheldon Keefe’s relationship with the players and management seems to have built the morale much higher since being promoted to the NHL in November of 2019. While Keefe hasn’t spent enough time as coach to make a definitive decision on who has done better, there are tons of reasons to believe that hiring Sheldon Keefe was one of the best decisions they made.

Familiarity was one of the biggest factors in this move being potentially successful, as 11 of the current Maple Leafs played for Keefe in the Marlies organization, and the fact that Keefe seems far more inclined to make in-game adjustments to their game plan than Babcock was during his time here. This is crucial considering that while under Babcock, the Leafs let games get away from them a lot of times this season, giving up crucial leads and losing on multiple occasions.