5 ideal candidates for the Leafs general manager job

Bennett Jull
10 months ago
It’s been 12 days since Kyle Dubas was fired. As the dust continues to settle, the Leafs are edging closer to finding their next General Manager. As the search continues, I examined all of the names that have been rumoured to be in the running, and come up with my personal top five.
Some names on this list might not be currently attainable, but these are the five that I believe are best suited to be successful (and are somewhat realistic). One name in particular looks poised to take the reins, and is the current betting favourite.
#5. Eric Tulsky
Tulsky’s days as an Assistant General Manager appear to be limited. It’s been widely reported that he has interviewed for other vacant General Manager roles, and I believe he will be appointed somewhere sooner rather than later. Tulsky’s background is certainly unique. He has been with the Carolina Hurricanes for nine years, but prior to that, he was an inorganic chemistry wiz. He holds an undergraduate degree in Chemistry and Physics from Harvard, and a PhD in Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley. Tulsky was an elite individual contributor but also managed teams that enabled unique nanotechnologies to solve complex problems in multiple fields. Yeah…
Since transitioning to hockey with Carolina, he has climbed the ranks to be an AGM. Previous roles with the ‘Canes include Vice President of Hockey Management and Strategy and Manager of Hockey Analytics. If you couldn’t guess, Tulsky is very data-oriented and analytically driven. Of all the candidates on this list, Tulsky perhaps ‘feels’ the most similar to Dubas in style. Carolina is consistently one of the best-managed teams in the NHL and year after year they are very competitive. Tulsky is a big part of that, and whoever hires him will be hiring a very impressive progressive mind.
#4. Brandon Pridham
This name is obviously familiar and while I felt it was important to include an internal candidate, Pridham absolutely deserves strong consideration for this role. He has been with the organization since 2014 and has been an AGM with the Leafs since 2018. Perhaps he is best known for being Kyle Dubas’s cap expert and right-hand man. In the past Dubas openly spoke about how integral Pridham’s contributions are.
In addition to being a salary cap and number-crunching expert, Pridham’s past includes a stint with the NHL. He served as the point of contact for all General Managers and executives for any questions or issues pertaining to the salary cap or CBA. Pridham was also instrumental in streamlining the scouting process and at one point was the point of contact for every NHL Scouting Director. He is a very well-connected man with plenty of strong relationships. Pridham is currently the Interim General Manager, but he will undoubtedly get a chance to be a full-time General Manager soon enough either in Toronto, or elsewhere.
#3. Brad Treliving
I have a feeling there will be plenty more articles on this candidate. The current odds on favourite deserves his place on the list. Like any other General Manager, Treliving has had plenty of wins and losses. There are plenty of reasons why Treliving is being heavily considered, and experience is a main factor. Shanahan stated in his infamous press conference that experience would be imperative, and Treliving has it in spades. Not only is he an experienced General Manager, but he’s done so in a Canadian market, where every move is heavily scrutinized. That experience is invaluable.
What else makes Treliving a strong candidate? Well, let’s assess the Maple Leafs for a second. Are there major decisions looming around star players? Yes, absolutely. Does he have experience handling tough situations with star players? Again, a resounding yes. Treliving and his team rolled the dice with Johnny Gaudreau and ended up losing him at the 11th hour to free agency. There’s no chance Treliving would allow another star player to walk away for nothing, and his experience in trading star players also bodes well. At the time, Treliving received heavy plaudits for dealing away Matthew Tkachuk. He received a 1st round pick, a prospect, Jonathon Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar. Finally, his drafting history has been somewhat hit or miss, but look at who he drafted for Calgary in 2016; Tkachuk in Round 1, Dillon Dube in late Round 2, Adam Fox in Round 3, and Matthew Phillips in late Round 6. Not too shabby…
#2. Jason Botterill
While there haven’t been too many reports linking Botterill to Toronto, and certainly not as many as Treliving, I’m thrilled there are any at all. Botterill has been an important part of Stanley Cup-winning teams and has experienced multiple organizations within the NHL. He is currently an AGM with the Seattle Kraken, a team that is built very differently than the Maple Leafs. They are also a team that has completely overachieved and pushed Dallas to game seven in the second round this year.
Prior to Seattle, Botterill was General Manager in Buffalo for three seasons. It was widely publicized that he didn’t see eye to eye with Buffalo’s polarizing owners, and his resource management was questioned. Botterill had some large wins and losses at the helm, and while his time there wasn’t overly successful, he traded for Tage Thompson and drafted many players that will prominently feature for Buffalo next season and beyond.
Before Buffalo, Botterill was part of the Penguins organization for the better part of a decade. When Pittsburgh won the cup in 08/09, Botterill was the Director of Hockey Operations. When the Pens won again in 15/16 and 16/17, Botterill was the Associate General Manager. He has his fingerprints all over multiple cup-winning teams and certainly knows how to get over the hump. He played just under 100 NHL games, and his overall experience makes him a very intriguing candidate for the Maple Leafs.
#1. Doug Armstrong
Doug Armstrong has three years left on his contract with the St. Louis Blues. It certainly is unlikely that he leaves St. Louis, but could a vacant General Manager position be too much for the Ontario-born Armstrong? He’s certainly accomplished everything one could in St. Louis, and his experience would make him an odds-on favourite if he felt strongly about departing the Midwest.
Armstrong has been an executive in the league since the mid-’90s. He won a cup with Dallas in 98/99 as an AGM, and recently again with St. Louis in 18/19 as President of Hockey Operations and General Manager. That’s the other wrinkle… As he is already President of Hockey Operations, would he even want a so-called demotion?
Armstrong has helped assemble multiple Canadian Olympic and World Champions teams that have won and is one of the most experienced executives in hockey. A pipe dream, but still a dream nonetheless, Doug Armstrong if truly available is my favourite candidate.
While Eric Tulsky and Brandon Pridham both possess elite technical minds, their lack of experience will ultimately deter Shanahan from their services. Botterill has won cups and has a strong blend of experience and pedigree. He would be my realistic #1 choice seeing as Doug Armstrong is likely remaining in St. Louis, unfortunately. It appears as Brad Treliving will more than likely be named the next General Manager, and he would certainly have his work cut out for him right away. While I prefer others, I believe there are worse alternatives than Treliving which are rumoured to be garnering consideration from Toronto and other organizations. There should be some concrete news here soon enough as we continue to embark on the Leaf’s biggest offseason in recent history.

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