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Maple Leafs depth and Brad Treliving’s good fortune
1 month ago
Toronto Maple Leafs fans are a complicated bunch. With a fanbase that stretches across the world, it’s difficult to find anything at all we can agree on.
Whether it’s a free agent signing, or who the fourth-line centre should be, or the 7th defenseman, or even which unknown prospect should have been picked in the sixth round of the draft.
Whatever the situation, you’ll find Leaf fans somewhere arguing about it.
However, nothing brings us together more than the discussions of the team’s misfortune.
Nothing ever seems to work out for the Leafs, as they work towards a 57-year Stanley Cup drought.
But something changed with hiring of new General Manager Brad Treliving.
Debates, and blog posts were plentiful when the Leafs decided to change course and dismiss Kyle Dubas in the offseason. Argue his decision-making all you want, one thing is for certain:
Brad Treliving is lucky. And it begins with Waivers.
The COVID-shortened 2021 NHL season, had the Leafs playing in the “All-Canadian” Division. That season alone, the team lost Aaron Dell, Jimmy Vesey, and Travis Boyd on waivers, a year in which adding depth was a big issue due to the restrictions put in place by the league.
Dubas had no luck the following year either. Adam Brooks (TWICE), Michael Amadio, Ryan Dzingel, and everyone’s favourite Harri Säteri were claimed.
Nicolas Aube-Kubel was the last, and at that point it felt like anyone the team waived was headed to a different city.
Losing these players is difficult enough on its own, but replacing them also costs draft picks and hinders the team’s ability to make other more significant moves to improve the roster.
It almost started to feel like there was a joke going on around the league to try to screw Toronto. Even Dubas felt it.
This year was different.
Where would the Leafs be without the contributions of Martin Jones, Simon Benoit, and (to a lesser extent) William Lagesson?
Injuries to Timothy Liljegren, Connor Timmins, Mark Giordano, and John Klingberg should have been concerning, but lucky enough the Leafs found a way to work through it without having to make a trade, as they’re short on valuable assets as it stands.
They’ve even found a diamond in the rough with Simon Benoit, who started the season injured on the Marlies, but now looks to be this season’s version of Luke Schenn.
If the losses on the backend weren’t enough, the Leafs also lost their starting goalie. And then one more.
No one could have predicted the drastic dip in Ilya Samsonov’s game. Even his biggest sceptics couldn’t have foreseen a 57-point drop in SV%. A demotion was necessary.
While Samsonov struggled, Joseph Woll excelled.
But, of course, we’re cursed.
A high-ankle sprain took the Leafs goalie of the future out of the lineup with no timetable for a return.
Enter Martin Jones. Yet another saviour the team was lucky enough to pass through waivers. Through 10 games, Jones leads the team with a .930 SV% and 2.20 GAA.
His strong play has once again allowed Treliving to stay patient, and not sacrifice any picks/prospects in search of a goalie ahead of the March 8th NHL Trade Deadline.
Through all the injuries the last addition to the roster was made 88 days ago when the Leaf’s signed Noah Gregor off his PTO.
Brad Treliving’s luck does not begin and end with just waivers, however. His most glaring mistake since joining the Leafs, signing John Klingberg, was buried on LTIR. He was also able to LTIR Matt Murray’s contract to get the team cap compliant to start the year.
While thoughts of a curse will still linger, a tiny shred of good luck could go a a long way in building some optimism for the future.
Cross your fingers.
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