Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brad Treliving’s offseason to-do list, in his own words
Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
By Alex Hobson3 months ago
15 minutes after the Pittsburgh Penguins hired former Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas as their new President of Hockey Operations, the Maple Leafs’ own president held a press conference to introduce the club’s 18th general manager in franchise history, former Flames GM Brad Treliving.
It’s important to note that for these press conferences, most of the time they’re set up in a way to make the subject look and sound good. Treliving and Brendan Shanahan alike had the past 24 hours to come up with talking points while meeting the media today, so these points aren’t to be taken and run with at face value. That being said, if you’re a Leafs fan, you likely felt better today than you did yesterday upon hearing what his priorities were as GM.
My colleague Jon Steitzer did a piece early this morning highlighting 16 things to do on Treliving’s hypothetical checklist in his first summer as Maple Leafs GM. While Treliving didn’t sit down in his press conference and rattle off a 16-point checklist, he did make some of his priorities early on very clear — and they were the priorities that every Maple Leafs fan wanted to hear, beginning with Auston Matthews and his contract extension.
Treliving already opened the door for dialogue with Matthews, Judd Moldaver
Panic set in for lots of fans when Dubas and the Maple Leafs parted ways. Not even specifically because of him leaving, but because of the ripple effect it would have on Matthews, who has one year remaining on his deal before he’s due for a new contract. He spoke highly of Dubas in his exit press conference while reiterating that he wants to stay in Toronto. So, with his old GM out of the picture and everyone left wondering what would happen next, the situation seemed a little bleaker than it was the day after their playoff run ended.
What people may have failed to recognize was that a) Matthews is not physically eligible to put pen to paper until July 1st, and b) there was never going to be continued dialogue without a GM in the picture. It’s funny, because in a way that second point wasn’t fully accurate; according to a snippet from Sportsnet’s Luke Fox, Treliving reached out to Matthews to open the conversation before he even signed his own contract.
In his own words, priority number one is to meet with Matthews, and not only get to know him, but more importantly, let his new #1 centre get to know him. Considering how much of Dubas’ brand consisted of creating a transparent work environment, it’s encouraging to see Treliving approach the negotiations in a similar way I imagine Dubas would have.
Assessing Sheldon Keefe and his “Unique” Situation
Immediately after wrapping up questions regarding Matthews, the focus shifted to head coach Sheldon Keefe. I think everybody was a little bit shocked to see Dubas shown the door before Keefe was, but Shanahan essentially shut the door on the possibility of him getting the axe before a new GM was hired, saying he’d leave it up to whoever that was.
Well, now we know who it is, and like Treliving alluded to in his press conference, he’s going to have to sit down with Keefe and discuss their respective outlooks before making a decision on the bench boss for next season. He touched on the topic for a couple of minutes, but the gist of what he said was that for him to get a real sense of whether or not Keefe would be the right guy to lead the Maple Leafs, he would have to work with him.
That being said, I wouldn’t expect Keefe to go anywhere anytime soon. Treliving chose his words carefully, but he also made a point to acknowledge the current bench boss’ regular season success (I know..we’re all sick of hearing those words), and also recognized that he got his top players to improve on both the physical side of the game as well as the defensive side of things.
Draft, Staff, and Building Relationships
It’s no secret that the Maple Leafs’ offseason doesn’t start and end with Matthews and Keefe. But those two are certainly the biggest priorities. After that, Treliving touched on focusing on the draft (which, he won’t be able to participate in due to restrictions set by the Calgary Flames when he interviewed with the Maple Leafs), getting to know the staff on the team, and building relationships.
These may all sound like cliches. Of course the new general manager is going to want to start building relationships with the people working for the franchise that now employs him. But, to hear him stress that word on more than one occasion tells me that he’s looking to maintain a similar workplace culture that was established within the past five years (and no, this doesn’t mean the “country club” culture will stay. But, having a GM who’s transparent and approachable is something that can pay off in dividends for tasks like the Matthews extension.
It’s going to be hard to judge Treliving until he makes a couple of moves for this organization, but he made his list of priorities pretty clear all while keeping the specifics on the down low, and to me, what he said was pretty much exactly what the city of Toronto needed to hear.
Recent articles from Alex Hobson