Dubois and DeBrincat being available complicates things for the Maple Leafs

Photo credit:Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports
Jon Steitzer
1 year ago
The NHL is dangerously close to being interesting this offseason. We’ve already seen a three team trade and the Stanley Cup hasn’t been awarded yet. Another generational talent is available in the entry draft and now there seem to be increasing number of A-list talent being placed on the trade block.
Pierre Luc Dubois has said he wants to be anywhere but Winnipeg and Alex DeBrincat seems to be heading in the same direction about Ottawa. Both pretty understandable stances in my opinion and the fact that we’ll get to watch trades play out for them should satisfy hockey fans on an entertainment level. The question is, as it always is, “how does this affect the Leafs?”
Dubois and DeBrincat are now options that could potentially stand in the way for the Leafs finding a trade partner for either Mitch Marner or William Nylander should they be looking to trade either of them. While all four players are very different in style, I guess DeBrincat and Nylander are probably the closest, all are top line players that should fetch around the same return, in theory, but there is the potential that DeBrincat and Dubois could push returns lower due to the fact that their teams are handcuffed by the fact that they are dealing players that have publicly said they want out. The Dubois trade especially seems likely to be for an underwhelming return as his UFA status in a year looks to have him on a collision course with Montreal. How much does Montreal really want to pay to get him one year earlier when there is plenty of other work needed to be done before they are back to looking like a contender.
As for DeBrincat, he might be more interesting as a potential canary in the coal mine to see if he can set an interesting price for someone like William Nylander. DeBrincat is younger with a better goal scoring track record, but both his trade and his next contract will be important benchmarks when assessing what to do with Nylander.
Marner, of course, is a cut above this group and still needs to be looked at as his own unique thing, but it feels like there’s a potential “Winnipeg got how much for Dubois?” moment that leads to the Leafs listening actively on their star wingers.
The obvious angle to consider as well is that both Marner and Nylander will be back. None of this affects anything on the Leafs and the lesson should be that when great players want to play for your team, you happily keep them for as long as you can. Expiring contracts and no movement clauses challenge that thinking a lot, but the Leafs shouldn’t be racing to make their team less talented.
Finally, I guess we should look at whether either Dubois or DeBrincat make sense for the Leafs.
When it comes to DeBrincat there certainly is something to be said for trying to make your team more talented, but that seems like it would have the Leafs spiraling towards a 5 guys making $55M narrative and the Leafs top six getting even smaller might cause the city of Toronto to implode.
Dubois is a different situation. He would potentially address some of what the Leafs have lacked in their top six when it comes to toughness and size, the catch is that when all signs are pointing to Dubois wanting to go to Montreal it seems unlikely that Toronto is place he’s interested in going instead.
And both Dubois and DeBrincat come with the same contract concerns currently plaguing the Leafs core group.
The main takeaway is probably that these are interesting situations to monitor. The trades and the contracts both have the potential to be interesting precedents for someone like Nylander. We might also get a sense of how many teams are truly looking at adding significantly to their rosters and have a better understanding of a potential trade market for the Leafs if they do blow it up.

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