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The Countdown: 4 mistakes GM Brad Treliving is currently living with

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Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Seney
5 months ago
The Toronto Maple Leafs have been a roller coaster of emotions to follow this season as they’ve been consistently inconsistent all year. It started last offseason with the Kyle Dubas debacle and once Brad Treliving took over there was a level of nerves to see how he was going to handle not only the offseason but selecting the Leafs team for the 2023-24 season.
With the trade deadline approaching on March 8, Leafs fans should be on pins and needles to see what the veteran executive decides to do. Move the 2024 first-rounder? Stay patient and wait and see what’s available? How many defencemen will Treliving acquire?
While it certainly could be much worse, Treliving has made some serious gaffes. Here are four mistakes Treliving has made so far as Maple Leafs GM:

Signing Ryan Reaves for 3 Seasons

I understand how it looked from the outside. Toronto was known as a soft team last season and they certainly could be easy to play against at times. Treliving saw one of the league’s toughest guys available on the free-agent market but what happened after that still doesn’t make any sense.
Treliving handed out a three-year contract to a now 37-year-old winger who is known to have zero chance of playing every single game due to his foot speed and now, Reaves is on the injured reserve, cutting interviews about how he’s been healthy for weeks and he’s hating how much he’s getting scratched.
Treliving made a huge mistake here. There are other ways to become tougher to play against, you don’t have to just go out and sign the one guy nobody wants to fight. The new NHL is built on speed and skill, and one of the first moves Treliving made as GM was an absolute mishap.

Trading Sam Lafferty to the Canucks

Thanks to Reaves ‘needing’ to stay on the roster-breaking training camp and the fact the Leafs wanted to see more of Fraser Minten, Treliving decided he was going to clear some cap space by moving Sam Lafferty to the Vancouver Canucks.
Lafferty has had a fine season out west and has recorded 10 goals and 10 assists in 47 games. He’s versatile to play down the middle or on either wing and he’s done a great job providing energy to the elite Canucks this season. Lafferty has a +16 rating and also has 71 hits on the season, good for 4th on his team. Sure, there’s a difference in games played this season but it’s kind of ironic that Lafferty has more hits than Reaves.
Toronto’s had issues finding a consistent trio for their fourth line and it’s because Treliving traded away a big part of it for a fifth-round pick. Now he’s left with Reaves going public with his frustration and hopefully, for Leafs fans he can find a suitor to move on from his horrible contract. Don’t hold your breath on that one.

Signing John Klingberg and Not Matt Dumba

Hard to chirp a player who got seriously injured this season but it sounds like John Klingberg has dealt with hip issues in the past and the Maple Leafs decided to ignore it. Now, he’s on LTIR and Toronto’s depth on their blue line has been exposed throughout different parts of this season.
At $4.15 million against the cap, it was a risk from the jump, and watching it shake out the way it has, has been tough. Klingberg has only appeared in 14 games for the Leafs, registering five assists. While there were a couple of games where he looked zoned in on the power play with the top guns, his defensive blunders early on this season were worrisome. Now after hip surgery, it’s very likely his Maple Leafs’ career is over before we know it.
The hardest pill to swallow here was that Treliving wasn’t patient enough. Sure, he didn’t want to miss out on the opening day of free agency, but instead, he panicked and is paying the price for it. Reaves, huge miss, Klingberg, huge miss, and the worst of all, according to Elliotte Friedman via Leafs Morning Take defensive-defenceman Matt Dumba was on the Maple Leafs’ radar but Treliving decided he couldn’t wait it out and HAD to spend the $4 million he set aside for a defenceman on Klingberg. Dumba ended up signing for less in Arizona a month later.
The Maple Leafs’ second pair and penalty kill could really use a defensive mind like Dumba at the moment, who loves the physical side of the game and isn’t afraid to sacrifice his body to help the team. It would also help put all their defencemen into proper positioning. Dumba has had a solid season for the Coyotes and perhaps he’ll once again land on the Leafs’ radar this upcoming offseason.

Giving David Kampf A 4-year Deal

It’s hard to say how much Treliving knew Kampf’s game or if he was just going off what everyone in the organization was telling him, but handing the fourth-line center a four-year contract at $2.4 million was a big mistake. Don’t even get me started on the modified no-trade clause that went along with it.
Kampf’s had a down season. He hasn’t been the shut-down pivot Toronto so desperately needs and his penalty-killing abilities have been very hot and cold and is one of the reasons the Leafs PK is one of the worst in the league. If it’s not for defense first, then why is Kampf even dressing because his offensive IQ is extremely limited.
While Kampf would have likely walked if Toronto wasn’t willing to go past three seasons, Treliving may be paying for this one in a couple of seasons. Leafs fans better hope Kampf can become the defensive stopper the team desperately needs as he can make a huge impact in playoff games and not even sniff the scoresheet. Right now, he’s not doing a whole hell of a lot.
Toronto continues to be a team to watch as the trade deadline approaches. My sense is the Maple Leafs make a couple of small moves but don’t trade their first-round pick or any of their top prospects. It’s starting to sound like the organization realizes they should give Treliving a pass in his first season and focus more on how he can put his fingerprints all over the 2024-25 roster. Hopefully, the bonehead moves are behind him.

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