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With Kyle Dubas out, an internal candidate GM makes sense for the Maple Leafs

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Photo credit:Steven Ellis/The Leafs Nation
Jon Steitzer
9 months ago
The Friday before a long weekend is the perfect time to throw the Toronto Maple Leafs into chaos. The wording on the release is interesting in the sense that the Leafs said they decided to part ways with Kyle Dubas and in some ways, it speaks in direct contradiction to the argument I’m making here.
And that argument is that there is value in remaining consistent with Kyle Dubas’ vision, as it has moved the club in a very positive direction.
With the Leafs organization deep with future GM candidates like Brandon Pridham and Laurence Gilman, there is an opportunity for the Leafs to make an immediate move that allows them to stay on track for critical areas to address like the draft, free agency, any possible trade of a Core Four player, and of course, the Matthews and Nylander contract extensions.
Brandon Pridham has already garnered some attention around the league as his name has come up with the Calgary Flames GM vacancy. Whether he is been interviewed or short listed or whatever, there seems to be some interest in him already underway and the Leafs have the opportunity to shut that down and retain someone who has a nearly unmatched knowledge of the CBA, the Leafs cap situation, and isn’t a bad scout either. The biggest issue with Pridham, as well as potentially with Gilman, is that the Leafs were rumoured to be looking at experienced General Managers as their potential replacement for Kyle Dubas if it came to that. Pridham’s experience has been very specialized towards cap management despite being a promising candidate and he might not be seen as the best jack-of-all-trades option.
Laurence Gilman might be the jack-of-all-trades option. Often the Assistant GM who is acting as the GM of an AHL team is fairly high on the succession plan, and with Gilman overseeing development as well as coming in with a strong background in contract negotiations, and being around NHL front offices for the past 20 years, he might not be viewed as much of a green candidate as Pridham despite the fact this would also be his first NHL GM gig. Gilman has the potential to bridge the gap between Dubas’ way of doing things and the way most NHL teams seem to operate and that could provide a bit of comfort to the MLSE Board.
I’m sure the idea of Jason Spezza will be thrown around by some or the idea of Brendan Shanahan stepping more directly into the role in the short term, but I think in Spezza’s case it is likely too soon for serious GM or Head Coach consideration as it’s a pretty risky situation to toss an inexperienced person into a key role on a team that is very much in its most competitive window.
And for Shanahan, we might get him in the role, but if he’s in that spot for more than three weeks, panic.
The time of Shanahan interim or a potential GM search to yield what, Brad Treliving? Chuck Fletcher? is going to mess with what are pretty tight timelines for the Maple Leafs. And while that isn’t the best argument for going with an internal candidate if you don’t believe in them they are dismissing a lot of organizational knowledge in favour of candidates who likely are available because they were bad at their jobs.
If there wasn’t anything to the whole “Leafs want an experienced GM” thing, there are a number of interesting options that you then start pursuing. Eric Tulsky is undoubtedly one of the most popular names to suggest but requires waiting out the end of the Canes’ season. Cam Lawrence is another favourite of mine, but it’s hard to gauge MLSE’s current appetite for analytics-driven GMs and that could torpedo both Lawrence and Tulsky. Steve Staois who is presently working with the Oilers is another worthwhile option, in my opinion and he comes with previous experience within the Leafs organization as well.
It’s hard to come up with an external GM suggestion that makes so much sense that it’s worth ignoring the internal talent and holding off decisions on Sheldon Keefe, the draft, and most importantly the Leafs’ current roster. I’d strongly lean toward either Pridham or Gilman.

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