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The Maple Leafs had interest in Matt Dumba before settling on John Klingberg

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Photo credit:© Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Seney
3 months ago
When it comes to the “almosts” from the offseason that break later in the year, talk about bad timing for this one.
Hockey insider Elliotte Friedman was recently a guest on Leafs Morning Take with Nick Alberga and Jay Rosehill, and after Rosehill candidly asked Friedman if GM Brad Treliving has his eyes on any other free-agent defenseman before landing on a one-year deal with John Klingberg, Friedman confirmed Matt Dumba was on the Maple Leafs radar before settling on the Swedish offensive defenseman.
When Rosehill asked about other viable options that may have been out there, Friedman responded:
You know Jay, I think a guy they really wanted on July 1st was (Matt) Dumba and I think they were in on him. You know Klingberg came in at $4.15 (million), I think Dumba at the time, Dumba ended up in Arizona for $3.9 (million), but I think at the time he was high in the 5’s. I think Toronto really wanted him and couldn’t, you know, they couldn’t get the deal done. Couldn’t fit Dumba where he wanted to be. It’s hard not to look at that right now. Dumba is not perfect, but he’s a passionate passionate guy.
Dumba has since appeared in 12 games for the Arizona Coyotes, collecting one goal and playing a ton on the team’s penalty kill. He’s a very different defenceman than Klingberg with a much stronger focus on the attention to detail of the defensive side of the puck. A true defensive defenceman if you will and after losing Luke Schenn in free agency to the Nashville Predators, would have been much better suited for the Maple Leafs.
Klingberg has struggled, and frankly, it’s getting out of control. Just when everyone thought it couldn’t get much worse than his defensive performance in Anaheim last season with the Ducks, the offensive and defensive metrics of the game show that, yes, it is in fact possible to be worse.
Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe even came out after the latest embarrassing loss to the Ottawa Senators and mentioned how the team needs to do a better job of protecting Klingberg out there. Not something you typically hear about a defenceman making $4.1 million.
Instead of sticking out the negotiations with Dumba, Treliving jumped the gun and signed Klingberg. Dumba had his own issues defensively and wasn’t advertised for the same offence Klingberg was, but the price tag is much easier to stomach for what he does bring. Now, it’s looking like a tough decision for the Leafs, given the stark issues to start the season. His heavy shot has seemingly disappeared, and his offense hasn’t made up for his poor defense. He leads (or trails?) the Leafs with a minus-8 rating, meanwhile, fellow puck-mover Morgan Rielly is having a great season despite the lack of minutes on the top power play.
Klingberg is skating as the seventh defenceman at practice today, which speaks volumes considering that Timothy Liljegren and Conor Timmins are both injured. What the next steps are for him is hard to say, but it’s a self-inflicted issue that Treliving may need to correct sooner rather than later.

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