Toronto Maple Leafs Klingberg, Karlsson, Dumba Debate Is Meaningless

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 18: Erik Karlsson #65 of the San Jose Sharks skates with the puck against the Calgary Flames during the second period of an NHL hockey game at SAP Center on December 18, 2022 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 18: Erik Karlsson #65 of the San Jose Sharks skates with the puck against the Calgary Flames during the second period of an NHL hockey game at SAP Center on December 18, 2022 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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The Toronto Maple Leafs inability to acquire sought-after defenseman Erik Karlsson from the San Jose Sharks has caused much reaction.

Especially, since the Toronto Maple Leafs were quick to sign polarizing defenseman John Klingberg early in free agency after a down year.

On top of that UFA defenseman Matt Dumba went weeks on the market until the Arizona Coyotes stepped up and signed him.

It was rumored the Leafs were in on the recent Karlsson talks. Former GM Kyle Dubas beat them to it by acquiring Karlsson for his new team in Pittsburgh. It makes sense then to compare the three options the Leafs had for shoring up their defense.

In the end, the analysis of if the team picked the right defenseman is negligible. Sure, it’s fun to dissect, but it won’t matter.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Klingberg, Karlsson, Dumba Debate is Meaningless

Let’s start with Karlsson. The 3-time Norris-trophy version of him would be a terrific addition to any blue line. Last year, he was the first defenseman since Brian Leetch in 1991-1992 to crack the hundred-point barrier in a season.

His advanced metrics have been impressive throughout most of his career. Yet, I agree with those who did not want to see him in a Leafs’ uniform.

His advanced age, salary (even without paying his full $11 million AAV), and injury history make him too big of a gamble. Can you imagine the vitriol after Karlsson plays in fifty games, scores 35 points, and is among the league leaders in total goals on-ice against?

The games played and number of points from above happen to be about his averages for the four seasons before last year.

Plus, he still has four years remaining on his contract, ages 34 through 37. To expect him to maintain his Norris-trophy-level play or anything close to it, is wishful thinking.

Based on the age of their core players, the Toronto Maple Leafs should be a contender for years to come. The problem with taking on Karlsson? If the gamble doesn’t pay off immediately (within the first year or two) you’re stuck.

At the end of Karlsson’s deal, his contract is a detriment and the team is left drooling about how it could have spent its money elsewhere.

The Leafs should take chances at the appropriate time with their current core of star players. Wasting the prime years of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and company with salary cap anchors is foolish.

Dumba might have offered slightly  more defense than Klingberg and Karlsson, but his offensive numbers lag in comparison.

The Leafs have taken the less risky approach by choosing Klingberg over Karlsson. Klingberg didn’t cost anything other than money.

Perhaps, his AAV is high considering his awful season a year ago. Yet, the big difference is commitment. The Leafs got Klingberg but they can say goodbye after one year.

Karlsson has a higher ceiling than Klingberg or Dumba, but in my opinion  it doesn’t outweigh the risk.

The Toronto Maple Leafs could have gambled on Karlsson coming off a career-type year, given up more assets to do so, and hoped the latter years of his contract didn’t see diminishing play.

Instead, the Toronto Maple Leafs took the less risky proposition in Klingberg for a similar role. Dumba, apparently wasn’t a consideration.

In the end, when they couldn’t find a tough, physical defenseman, they opted for a lower-risk offensive blueliner on a “shot-in-the-dark” one year deal. So be it.

Many more significant factors will determine the Leafs’ success next season. Matthews rebounding, Marner’s continued consistency, William Nylander reaching new heights, solid goaltending, and Morgan Rielly repeating his playoff heroics, to name a few.

Next. Erik Karlsson Is Incredibly Misunderstood. dark

The Toronto Maple Leafs offseason acquisition of Klingberg, Karlsson, or Dumba is well down the list of keys to success for next season. Much ado about nothing.