Kyle Dubas talks about the draft, Keefe, and the Leafs’ coach search

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Leafs’ assistant general manager Kyle Dubas joined Naylor and Simmons on TSN Radio yesterday to talk about how the team is approaching the upcoming draft, the current coaching search, and how his history with Sheldon Keefe has created some rumblings about the two locking up again within the NHL. 

In the months since Dubas was hired, it’s been great to listen to the radio or other outlets without a feeling of pure terror about what the Leafs front office might say next. Though there wasn’t much to chew on in terms of rumors or such – Dubas was pressed on the Babcock news, but deferred to Shanahan as the person responsible for that sort of decision – once again he had some things to say that, as a fan of the team, you really like to hear.

When asked about the draft and the Leafs doing their homework to prepare for that fourth pick:

If we take a very good player but pass up on a great player, that’s not good enough for us. There’s a litany of players that are in that mix for us there…We’re not in a position to be picky by position. We have to take the absolute best player, and that’s the process we’re immersed in now – with Mark Hunter leading the charge with Dave Morrisson, and Mark and I working closely together to make sure we’re getting this absolutely right…But if we’re going to start to separate ourselves and grow as an organization, it’s that second pick in the first round that I’m really focused on, in trying to predict what’s going to happen in front of us and see what players are going to be there. We have to make a great selection with that second pick and really start to stockpile some good young players in our organization.

Dubas was then asked about the difficulty of acquiring a top center, with the draft being the primary way to land one, which again brings us down that path of the “Strome or Marner” debate.

I think at this point we aren’t particularly good enough to be going out and drafting for need.
Our focus has exclusively been on picking the player we believe will have the most impact on the Leafs…We need to add all of those things (positions) in right now. We have some good pieces there but we can’t yet be picky…We just need focus on adding the most talent we can, and then we can adapt as we go along if we find a need that’s glaring.

This is something we’ve alluded to a number of times through our draft previews and such. The team simply isn’t good enough to start plugging holes, as the entire roster may need to be overhauled. It’s like trying to patch up a canoe made of fishing net.

And finally, Dubas was asked about his Soo connection with Sheldon Keefe, and whether he might be on the Leafs’ radar as a coaching candidate.

We haven’t had any discussions with Sheldon at this point, but it’s not surprising at all to hear he’s in consideration for other teams. And I’ve heard from other teams in the league asking questions about him.

This is a particularly interesting quote because there’s been some talk around Toronto adding Keefe in some sort of capacity, mainly with rumors of him taking a step forward from the junior ranks and joining the Marlies. However, if other organizations are asking about him, who knows what they have in mind. It might be intriguing to watch this unfold over the next little while and see if the Leafs want to act with urgency to make sure Keefe isn’t swooped up by another club.

Again, you can listen to the full segment from TSN1050 here.