Toronto Maple Leafs Should Make Trade With Their Former GM

2022 NHL Draft - Round 2-7
2022 NHL Draft - Round 2-7 / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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The Toronto Maple Leafs should consider a familiar adversary to bolster their roster ahead of the NHL Trade Deadline.

It seems like a distant memory when the Toronto Maple Leafs boasted some of the most innovative, youthful, and astute executives in professional sports. Kyle Dubas, with his vision centered on skill and puck possession, orchestrated a remarkable turnaround for the franchise.

Prior to his tenure, the team's postseason appearances were sparse, with just one playoff berth from 2004 to 2016, occurring during a shortened season.

Despite only securing one playoff series victory under Dubas' leadership, it wasn't for lack of effort or the wrong personnel.

Toronto Maple Leafs Should Make Trade With Their Former GM

The team assembled by Dubas last season appeared capable of contending for the Stanley Cup. However, they faced adversity, including several unlucky losses in overtime to an exceptional Sergei Bobrovsky and the loss of their goaltender to injury in Game 3. Hockey's unpredictable nature often hinges on luck, and unfortunately, the breaks didn't favor the Leafs. Nevertheless, Dubas remains a preferred choice as GM over any other in the league.

While it's evident that Brendan Shanahan or Sheldon Keefe might have been more deserving of termination than Dubas, he now finds himself at the helm in Pittsburgh.

Turning attention to the Penguins, their roster is in disarray. Dubas inherited a team in turmoil and attempted to provide their core with one last shot at the Stanley Cup, yet the strategy appears flawed. While Sidney Crosby continues to excel, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang seem to have passed their prime, making reliance on them as key players challenging.

A rebuild might be the optimal path forward for the Penguins, but doubts linger, particularly given the ownership's historical financial struggles. Should they opt for a roster overhaul, fears of fan apathy may dissuade them, despite the potential benefits. Trust in Dubas' judgment could alleviate such concerns.

Reports suggest Dubas is open to offers on most players, excluding the core group, a sensible approach. Consequently, Toronto should explore acquiring certain players. Reilly Smith, if financially feasible, could provide valuable depth scoring as a second or third-line winger, addressing a critical need for the Leafs. While his $5 million AAV may seem steep initially, he could effectively replace Tyler Bertuzzi next season.

With four 20-goal seasons to his credit, Smith brings invaluable playoff experience, thriving in high-pressure situations. Jeff Carter presents an intriguing option for the Leafs. At a comparable career stage to Jason Spezza, Carter's current production might be modest, but he could still deliver one last standout playoff performance before retirement.

Addressing the Leafs' goaltending woes, Alex Nedeljkovic emerges as a cost-effective option, given his pending UFA status. With Pittsburgh securing Tristan Jarry long-term, Dubas might prefer adding a budget-friendly backup next season, rather than committing to Nedeljkovic's $4 million AAV at minimum.

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Dubas must set aside any differences with the Leafs organization to facilitate potential trades, as Nedeljkovic, Carter, or Smith could significantly enhance their roster ahead of the NHL Trade Deadline.