Dubas Is Earning His Stripes
Source: Rene Johnston/Toronto Star via Getty Images
Kyle Dubas has been a busy general manager this off-season. Just recently he made a minor trade in acquiring defenceman Jordan Schmaltz from St. Louis for Andreas Borgman. He hasn't been able to sign Mitch Marner yet but he has been able to save some cap space. I was pretty critical in the way he handled the William Nylander situation last season. Nylander was able to get the best of the rookie GM but wasn't able to get his feet off the ground after missing the first two months of the regular season, making Dubas look less than stellar in the whole ordeal. This off-season he's been the opposite, in good way.
Dubas has been able to acquire some good talent. Barrie is a top 4 defenceman with a knack for putting up points, he also has just one more year left in his contract but somehow got Colorado to retain half of Barrie's 5.5 million dollars. Along in that deal Dubas pulled Alex Kerfoot who had a respectable 42 points in 78 games last season. Toronto was able to save some cap space and alleviate some of the teams defensive issues.
Dubas was able to keep forwards Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson at a value price at a combined 6.6 million dollars. At their price, Dubas got a steal. Both players have potential but are also able to contribute here and now, and in a variety of ways. If Dubas is able to re-sign Mitch Marner the teams offence will still be one of the most potent offences in the league, and these signings will be a big reason why.
The young GM might have made the best deal he's made this off-season by getting rid of aging veteran Patrick Marleau. Dubas knew he had to trade away Marleau and that horrible contact. The Hurricanes got Marleau and the Leafs didn't retain any salary from that contract, however the damage for the Leafs came by way of a conditional first round pick in 2020. It’s a good move but it did come at a price.
Speaking of veteran players, Dubas signed former Ottawa Senator Jason Spezza for year at the minimum salary. Sure he's not the old Spezza that used to torment Toronto in his days in Ottawa, but he is still good at taking draws and might get an extra spark playing home. For the money the Leafs are paying Spezza, it was good move by Dubas.
If you thought Dubas was done clearing cap space and moving dead weight on the team then you were incorrect. Trading away Nikita Zaitsev, who wanted to be traded out of Toronto and start fresh, was big. Zaitsev's contract seemed to be another impossible task for Dubas, it might not have been the challenge moving Marleau's contract was but Zaitsev's recent play was a tough sell. The Leafs got back was Cody Ceci. Ceci isn't a flashy player but will come in and help with the teams penalty kill and fill in for Zaitsev. His contract is a little high but it’s only one year. The Leafs also gave up Connor Brown but he was expendable too, especially given his contract.
The race to sign Mitch Marner is still ongoing, and while both sides haven't been able to reach an agreement, it doesn’t mean Dubas hasn't been trying. David Clarkson's contract and Nathan Horton's contract will be put on long term injury reserve which means combining both Horton's and Clarkson's contract, the Leafs have about $10.55 million dollars left. Toronto can also put Hyman and Dermott on long term injury at the start of the season which would be around 13 million between the four players. Dubas is getting creative and while his biggest goal is to try and re-sign Marner, Dubas is still focused on trying to make the Leafs a better team.
Kyle Dubas has had a good summer to say the least. He's been active and is making the Leafs a more competitive team. He has a chance now to fully seal the deal with Mitch Marner. Dubas knows how important it is to keep Mitch Marner on his team, it hasn't been an easy road for the 33-year old General Manager, but he has shown some wit and determination this off-season.