Toronto Maple Leafs: Don’t Expect Changes Anytime Soon

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - JUNE 28: General manager Brad Treliving of the Toronto Maple Leafs is seen prior to round one of the 2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft at Bridgestone Arena on June 28, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - JUNE 28: General manager Brad Treliving of the Toronto Maple Leafs is seen prior to round one of the 2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft at Bridgestone Arena on June 28, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs are in a horrible situation, the team is struggling and it is mainly all through players and coaches that General Manager Brad Treliving has either signed or extended.

This past off-season, President Brendan Shanahan decided to move on from Kyle Dubas as the Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager after he appeared to make a play for Shanahan’s job.

In his place, Treliving was hired and throughout the summer it was mistake after mistake after mistake.  The thing about all of his decisions was that nearly every media member and fan were able to see how horrendous the deals were.

The moves that have been the worst were extending David Kämpf to a four-year deal when he had a replacement in Pontus Holmberg waiting in the wings, signing soon to be 37-year old Ryan Reaves to a three year deal, as well as the season killing contracts given to Tyler Bertuzzi and John Klingberg.

The only deal he made that hasn’t worked out, but wasn’t horrendous was the one-year deal to Max Domi.  Heck, even Dylan Gambrell has been a failure on the Marlies as he sits with one goal through nine games.

It also appeared that Sheldon Keefe’s days were numbered as the Toronto Maple Leafs bench boss had failed to succeed as a coach in the NHL, however Treliving gave him a two-year extension.

The good part about these contracts are many of them are one-year deals and won’t hurt the team after this season, however this is the final year the team is guaranteed to have William Nylander and they may be wasting that season.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Don’t Expect Changes Anytime Soon

The best decision to see immediate changes is to fire the man that put all the pieces in place and that is Treliving.  However, Treliving was only hired five months ago on a multi-year deal.  If you own a business (MLSE), it is doubtful you want to just throw the millions of dollars in salary over multiple years in exchange for just a few months of failed work, so don’t expect Treliving to be out the door.

The next option would be to start moving out pieces that the general manager brought in.  Fortunately, to move Bertuzzi would not be a hard to accomplish even with his modified no trade clause where he has picked ten teams he won’t accept a trade to.

The bulk of his $5.5 Million salary has already been paid and the former 30-goal scorer has roughly $670,000 left owing to him for the remainder of the season.

A non playoff team could easily acquire Bertuzzi with the Maple Leafs not having to give up much if anything at all for a team to take him.  The acquiring team would then be able use him as a trade piece to a contender later in the season where they could retain half his salary.

The second decision would be to fire Keefe.  The now fifth year coach of the team had looked like he was on the outs any way, however, he was given an extension this past summer and while the details aren’t clear, I’d expect it to be around $2.5 Million per season.  It is unlikely that ownership would want to waste that money before they even get one game into the new contract.

Up next, out the door would be Reaves who has yet to be on the ice for a Maple Leafs goal and has at best been invisible in nine of the 11 games.

There is not a team out there that would take on his contract, however he could be placed on waivers and sent to the Marlies.

This does not mean he has to join their American Hockey League affiliate, it would just take him off the roster and clear up nearly all of his $1.15 Million of his $1.30 Million cap hit.  Again, ownership would be getting hit with a nearly $4 Million bill with just 11 games played by the veteran winger.

The final move would be moving out Klingberg, which would be similar to the Bertuzzi transaction.  Because Treliving gave the former offensive defenseman a large signing bonus, he has roughly $1.85 Million left being paid to him on his $4.15 Million cap hit.  Similar to Bertuzzi, a team could benefit from flipping him and retaining half the salary without paying much money.

The better decision for all these signings was that Treliving just did not make them in the first place.  A common assessment is that cap room is the best asset to have, which the Maple Leafs could have gone into the season having the plethora of young depth guys battle for spots on the team and if it did not work out, Treliving could have made a trade.

The moves outlined could easily solve the Maple Leafs problems and they could be made, the reason why they won’t happen is Treliving would have to admit to ownership that he messed up and would cost MLSE $16.5 Million for 11 games.

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They often say in investing it is better to cut your losses early than watch your portfolio diminish; and in this case, the organization needs to be quick in reacting to the failed start to the season.