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If Kyle Dubas were still the GM, Erik Karlsson might be a Toronto Maple Leaf

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Photo credit:Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Seney
8 months ago
The Erik Karlsson sweepstakes are over and he’s now a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Turns out, if Kyle Dubas was still running the Toronto Maple Leafs, Karlsson could have been the newest addition to Leafs Nation.
During his press conference to make the trade announcement, Dubas admitted the trade talks with San Jose date back to his ‘previous employment’ with the Maple Leafs. Oh, what could have been Leafs Nation?
The reigning Norris trophy winner was long rumored to be moving on from San Jose. Both his agent and general manager (GM) Mike Grier were working hard trying to find a suitor and Dubas’ interest remained constant, regardless of his office space changing addresses. As GM of the Leafs, Dubas reached out, what exactly was offered in the trade package, is anyone’s guess at this point.
What we do know is the fact the Penguins GM and president of hockey operations managed to unload a trio of hefty contracts in the process, save the Pens $3 million in cap space and somehow even the roster came out younger in the end. It was god’s work and something I mentioned Brad Treliving and the rest of the league should be taking notes from. Dubas has become one of the elite when it comes to multi-facet trades.

Maple Leafs Offer Likely Included Brodie or Liljegren

The Leafs have been rumored to be one of the teams Karlsson was interested in joining for several weeks. It apparently had come down to the Seattle Kraken, Carolina Hurricanes, Penguins and Leafs as far as preferred destinations went. As far as Toronto’s trade offer, it likely included one of defencemen TJ Brodie or Timothy Liljegren. Perhaps even both.
The Sharks wanted draft picks, so it’s likely a first-round pick was included as well, along with at least one prospect. With the $11.5 salary of Karlsson to worry about, the Leafs would have only been able to make it work if they included Brodie, Liljegren and likely Matt Murray and his $4.6-million salary as well.
Liljegren would have been a piece the Sharks would have loved to work with as he’s a young blueliner with a ton of upside, and much more so than what San Jose acquired in Jan Rutta.

Maple Leafs Move On With Extensions Looming

With the trade rumors awfully quiet at the moment, the Maple Leafs should be solely focused on getting Auston Matthews and William Nylander signed to contract extensions. There’s been some rumblings about Matthews’ deal being very close to announcement ready, meanwhile Nylander appears to be further apart when it comes to average annual value.
Regardless of if Matthews signs for three, four or five years, it should be applauded as this will be his second contract extension with the team and enough of the chirping about him not wanting to commit to the organization. At this point, he’s done nothing but show his loyalty and desire to win a Stanley Cup as a Maple Leaf.
Nylander on the other hand has already been through the ringer with the team when Dubas was running the show. He’s given in on his contract demands in the past and his new deal will be as complicated as ever. With the salary cap going up, it certainly helps, but yes, there’s a very good chance Nylander starts next season without a new deal and could very well finish next season unsigned for 2024-25 and beyond.
Leafs Nation, are you happy the team isn’t paying Karlsson big money over the next four seasons? Or, would you have wanted Treliving and company to be just as interested as Dubas and made things work for the Maple Leafs to add the reigning Norris-trophy winner?
Dubas has been in Pittsburgh for just over two months and has traded a first and second-round pick. Don’t pretend to be surprised.

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