Report: Leafs Hockey Ops personnel could be in high demand this offseason
By Jon Steitzer10 months ago
Today over at ESPN, Emily Kaplan ran down a list of a number of potential assistant coaches and assistant GMs who seem destined for bigger roles elsewhere. The list featured three Toronto Maple Leafs Hockey Operations folks, one as a potential head coach and two as potential GM candidates.
Carbery was the lone coaching candidate listed from the Leafs and Kaplan identifies the Capitals as the most likely landing spot given Carbery’s familiarity with the Hershey Bears. It doesn’t sound like Carbery would only have the Capitals as a suitor either:
“The 41-year-old is one of the buzziest names on the coaching circuit — and that’s even before he landed in Toronto, center of the hockey media universe. A few respondents said to monitor Carbery as an option for the Capitals should they make a change.”
Carbery’s credited with the success of the Leafs powerplay, which to be honest, seems like a bit of a deterrent to hiring him based on this season as it hasn’t been firing at the same rate as last year and getting the second unit going has been a challenge, to say the least. That’s not to take anything away from Carbery’s accomplishments and a big strength of the Sheldon Keefe era has been having coaches like Carbery, Chynoweth, and Sanford supporting him. Honestly, I’m surprised that Chynoweth isn’t on this list as well but I think defensive coaches a lot like defensive coordinators in football have more of an uphill battle to land the top gig.
Part of the benefit of being the Leafs is that Toronto can pay for top hockey ops talent below the head coach and GM positions, but the downside is that there will always be someone looking at them as options for top roles as well. Carbery more than the other two names on this list seems destined to be elsewhere and Toronto will likely need to start planning on replacing Spencer. Thankfully the list is filled with a number of other coaches who if they don’t land head coaching gigs might be interested in replacing Carbery behind the Leafs bench.
Gilman is someone who is likely to be interviewed on every single GM opening around the NHL. Eventually, he’s likely to land a top job, but so far the Leafs have been lucky.
As far as I can tell, in addition to overseeing the Leafs player development and AHL/ECHL teams, Gilman is the second set of eyes on things for Dubas as well as Pridham. A lot of the skills the Leafs highly value in Pridham are shared by Gilman and we can only assume he is regularly lending support to the Leafs in both the area of cap management and contract negotiations.
What we really don’t know about Gilman or really any AGM is who they’d enact their own roster vision and how they’d manage players with being the final word.
It also felt like Gilman would just be stopping in Toronto temporarily and if he moves on, Ryan Hardy would likely take on an increased role.
Speaking of Ryan Hardy, he’s the final Leafs name on Kaplan’s list.
The former Chicago Steel GM has been in charge of the Marlies and now the Growlers for a couple of seasons and this year the success of the Marlies should get a few more eyes on him as a potential GM.
Hardy being young and focused on the big picture, similar to Kyle Dubas, likely make him an interesting option for a team that is just embarking on the start of a rebuild and could use some direction. His track record has been solid at every level he’s been at and while I think he’ll still be with the Leafs organization next season, it might not be many after that.
So what does all of this mean? It certainly means the Leafs also need to be focusing on their next ones. Kyle Dubas has been pretty good about making sure there is always one or two new people in the Hockey Ops department every offseason to bring in some fresh perspective and I don’t think Toronto would lose that if they didn’t lose people.
There is also Brandon Pridham that wasn’t mentioned but certainly has the reputation as an up and coming Assistant GM and if there is a team out there that has their priorities set around cap management, he’d potentially be a top target as well.
And of course, there is that other guy who doesn’t have a contract for next season. Kyle something, I think? DUBAS. Yes, if the Leafs don’t get their own ducks in a row it could be Kyle Dubas on the move and the Leafs might be replacing their GM with Gilman or Hardy. And with Keefe one year away from his contract expiring, there’s certainly something that needs to be settled there as well.
For now, we’ll just tuck all this information away and save it for later in the spring because, with the Leafs nine games away from the start of the playoffs, the focus isn’t really going to be on who needs to hand in their key card when the Leafs year finally comes to a close.
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