Make or Break Year for GM Kyle Dubas & Leaf Core. HOCKEY CRUNCH by Jamie Gilcig

October 12, 2022 – It’s that time! First game of the season when all looks optimistic and the dew is fresh.

The big question is can the Leafs shake this first round and out that they’ve been enduring? Did they do enough in the off season? This writer thinks not.

The core really wasn’t touched. The Leafs had two weak spots, the glaring one in net, and their D which is frankly old and ugly other than Morgan Rielly.

This team will make the playoffs this year. Auston Matthews clearly has matured into a major impact player. Mitch Marner is a beast, and William Nylander is very very good.

But they just haven’t been able to get over the hump. The last several seasons amounted to…bupkas.

The team has been in cap trouble, and while Dubas has made some good low dollar pickups the voids are still huge. Teams can focus on the key forwards and hope for the best with their other lines. Toronto still doesn’t have a power forward. And their depth, while better, is focused on defence.

Which is good as their D corp is a struggle. Brodie & Muzzin tie up over $10m in cap space without putting up $10M in value. Nothing personal, but it’s hard to move forward with that much invested in these two. While the team has been creative with the rest of their corp, including getting vet Mark Giordano to sign up for a team friendly contract; at his age he’s not the saviour, or the future.

The team has chosen not to resign Dubas at this point. That isn’t a sign of support.

The Matt Murray move either will make the GM look like a genius or be his demise with the team. It’s that simple. Matthews and Nylander also only have two seasons left on their contracts which means unless the cap goes up dramatically the team make have to make some large decisions. Michael Bunting is due for a large raise after this year.

Of course if they don’t get past the first round this season that won’t matter as much as there probably will be some major changes.

Apparently Mr. Dubas and this scribbler like Ilya Samsonov more than the Capitals do. I’m not sure why they essentially dumped him, or why he was able to be signed for such a low cap hit? It truly is a one year earn a bigger contract deal.

The other problem Toronto has is of course a lack of trade depth. They do have their 1st for next year, but not a lot of younger gems to dangle to get a stud for the playoffs. Essentially this is an expensive veteran team without the long deep cup runs to show.

Get ready for a bumpy ride Leaf Nation!

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