Time for the Toronto Maple Leafs to give Kyle Dubas an extension
Photo credit:© David Berding-USA TODAY Sports
By James Reeve8 months ago
The Toronto Maple Leafs continue to be a force in the NHL and it is surprising that general manager Kyle Dubas remains on an expiring contract this season.
At the time of writing, Kyle Dubas’ contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs is set to expire after the 2022-23 season and an extension should be one of the top priorities of the team’s ownership entering the new year. The Leafs have built a strong team that can compete with anyone in the NHL, currently sitting second in the Atlantic Division once again and third overall in the entire league.
The Leafs have picked up seven wins over their past 10 games and have a healthy +27 goal differential, showing that their strong offensive approach is generally outscoring teams most nights. Of course, they lag behind the dominating Boston Bruins, who sit in prime position to win the Presidents Trophy, but the Leafs were able to beat them in a close-fought 2-1 victory back in early November.
The team has been constructed by Dubas with head coach Sheldon Keefe in mind, with the partnership continuing to bear fruit after their Calder Cup triumph with the Marlies, and even some of the smaller moves that Dubas has made appear to be working out for the team’s benefit. Landing Connor Timmins from the Arizona Coyotes for basically nothing, since Curtis Douglas is a mid-level AHL player at best, has been an excellent move so far this season.
There is still more to come from Dubas this year, with the potential for another splash by the trade deadline to try and push this star-studded team over the edge when it comes to the post-season. The depth that he has acquired, particularly on defence, has helped the team get through a slew of injuries. Jake Muzzin, T.J. Brodie, Morgan Rielly, Rasmus Sandin, Timothy Liljegren, Victor Mete and Jordie Benn have all been sidelined at different stages of the season, with Mark Giordano the only player of the team’s top six to miss time so far.
Being able to get through that kind of adversity, especially when Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov were also carrying injuries and missing time in net, shows how well Dubas prepared this team. Many will point to the Leafs’ lack of success in the playoffs as a knock against Dubas, but they have come so close more than once and should be able to get over the hump with another crack coming at the end of this campaign.
Poor seeding by the NHL has done the Leafs no favours, with tilts against the Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning, but this team has shown that it is capable of achieving something with perseverance. Just last year saw the team break the franchise record for most points in a season, narrowly falling short in Game 7 against the Lightning, but the positivity around the team remains.
He has built a team that can win, and he will continue to do so if given the opportunity. Yes, he may lean on his Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds roots too often at times, and no the team haven’t progressed beyond the first round of the playoffs yet, but their time is coming and Dubas has done well enough to at least earn a longer term to try and get the team to where they can be.
If ownership needs to see results, that’s understandable. But it will be very difficult to find someone who can immediately turn the Leafs into champions at the first attempt. Giving Dubas a short-term extension, in the region of two years, puts him on notice that he has done a good job so far but the team needs to be achieving more in the immediacy.
If Dubas can’t get the team beyond their current point in two more years, then that will be another conversation to have down the line. But, for now, Dubas is the right person for the job and should be able to get the Toronto Maple Leafs deeper into the playoffs with a little more time.
Waiting until after the season is finished is a big risk, especially if the team does well and has a deep playoff run. Locking Dubas up earlier, giving him and the team security, is the right move to make and the Leafs should be looking to make it before the trade deadline rolls around.
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