Toronto Maple Leafs: Brad Treliving Has a Bad Case of Deja Vu

A fan holds up a sign which reads "It's Deja Vu". (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
A fan holds up a sign which reads "It's Deja Vu". (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager, Brad Treliving, is living a serious case of deja vu. Time will tell if it benefits or haunts him and the franchise.

Brad Treliving is in his first year at the helm of the Toronto Maple Leafs. As the team’s new general manager, he’s already found himself in a very familiar situation.

Prior to joining the Toronto Maple Leafs and before Treliving and his former club, the Calgary Flames “mutually agreed to part ways”, there was a massive piece of business that needed to get done.

The team’s star player, Johnny Gaudreau, was in the final year of his contract. Treliving needed to manage either signing him to an extension that would keep him with the Flames or trade him to re-coup assets.

Sound familiar?

Toronto Maple Leafs: Brad Treliving Has a Bad Case of Deja Vu

While Treliving has made poor trades in the past, the worst move of all may have been his inactivity. That’s because he and the Flames watched Gaudreau walk away at the end of the season as an unrestricted free agent (UFA).

According to the Athletic, Gaudreau had the opportunity to stay with Treliving and the Flames after an incredible 115-point season. Remaining there would have seen him receive the biggest possible payout. However, instead, he decided to ditch the comfort of Calgary for a new NHL home, the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The man steering that decision was Gaudreau, but right beside him, whispering in the talented left-winger’s ear was his agent, Lewis Gross. It just so happens that Gross and Treliving have needed to exchange phone numbers once again now that the general manager has landed in Toronto.

That’s because Gross also represents William Nylander. For those who are unfamiliar with the Leafs star’s contract status, he’s in the final year of his deal. Treliving is facing some serious deja vu as he and Gross engage in a very familiar dance.

Treliving and Gross both know that if Nylander doesn’t sign a contract extension in Toronto before July 1, 2024, it will make him a UFA. That would allow the winger to take his pick of any NHL team. Treliving was blasted by the fans in Calgary for allowing that to happen with Gaudreau. Toronto fans wouldn’t be any more forgiving.

That, of course, puts added pressure on just one side to get a deal done. The Leafs don’t want Nylander and Gross fielding offers from other clubs. With the enormous salary cap restraints on the already bloated Toronto Maple Leafs roster, another NHL team could overpay and price them out of the equation. Treliving not only knows that this is a real possibility, but lived a similar experience with Gaudreau.

The difference, which may benefit Treliving, is that it appears Nylander likes playing with the Maple Leafs. Gaudreau didn’t ditch Calgary for money, but because he just didn’t want to be there anymore.

Treliving is also aware of the the well-publicized negotiations Gross had with former Leafs GM, Kyle Dubas, in 2018. Nylander held out as a restricted free agent until he and his camp were satisfied in agreeing to a six-year extension worth $41.4 million, that turned out to be very team friendly.

It took Gross seeing his client sit out the first 26 games of the 2018-19 regular season before that deal was signed. This round of negotiations won’t be easy.

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Treliving may be living his own personal groundhog day, but ideally, this one will end with a signed contract in hand.