With Berube in place, Treliving turns his attention to upgrading Leafs’ roster

Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Seney
27 days ago
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Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brad Treliving has a busy summer ahead of him.
The team announced Craig Berube as their new head coach and once the associate coaches are confirmed, likely within the next week or so, Treliving will turn his attention to how he’s going to manage upgrading the Maple Leafs roster for next season.
Management preached a newfound willingness to put everything on the table and give the core of the team a wholesome review. Now the waiting game begins to see just how the second-year Leafs GM plans to navigate the new direction.
Mitch Marner is a prime trade candidate, as he’s entering the final season of his contract and at times in the Stanley Cup Playoffs looked disengaged. A return for Marner would be significant and could help the Leafs address their lack of high-end talent on defence and also create some more financial freedom for Treliving moving forward.
Other potential trade candidates include 22-year-old forward Nick Robertson. With Matthew Knies dead set for the top-six next season and mutual interest from Treliving and Tyler Bertuzzi’s camp to get a new contract completed before July 1 when free agency begins, Robertson could be in a numbers game at left-wing. He’s an elite shooter, who is undersized for a checking role and to maximize his potential, the former second-round pick needs to be playing with offensive-minded forwards and see consistent power-play time. Sheldon Keefe had trust issues with Robertson’s defensive awareness, which should be considered a red flag for a Berube-coached hockey team. That said, the young forward still has a ton of untapped potential and holds value on the trade market.
Another potential trade candidate is prospect Fraser Minten. His leadership attributes and character are off the charts. He finished the 2023-24 season with 14 points in 16 WHL playoff games. Treliving got an up close and personal look at Minten’s game during his four-game NHL stint to start this past season, and if the Maple Leafs are going to address their need for another goaltender and shoring up their d-core, Minten could be an asset onlooking teams are asking for.
Easton Cowan on the other hand shouldn’t be going anywhere. He’s a bulldog. His in-your-face style along with his high-end offensive talent could be perfectly suited for the Leafs’ third-line as soon as next season. Cowan’s showcased the entire tool box this season in the Ontario Hockey League and is looking to lead his London Knights to a Memorial Cup championship. He’s the perfect type of workhorse for a Berube coached team as the new bench boss never wants to get outworked, regardless if it’s Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs or the second half of a back-to-back mid-way through the regular season. Cowan’s game is going to translate well to the NHL level and Treliving needs to take good care of the ace up his sleeve.
As for other current roster players, Timothy Liljegren’s name continues to make the rounds on the rumour mill. Liljegren was recently named by Daily Faceoff’s Matt Larkin as ‘trade bait’ for Treliving this summer, along with Robertson, as the two together in a package could result in an impact player coming back to Toronto. Liljegren had issues with consistency during this past season and continued to have mental lapses in timely moments. He’s not overly physical and offensively always seems to leave fans wanting more. If Liljegren is moved, the Maple Leafs will surely be in the market for a right-handed defenceman on the free-agent market. A market that includes Matt Dumba, who Treliving tried to sign last season, along with Tyler Myers, Chris Tanev, Brett Pesce, Brandon Montour, Matt Roy, Dylan DeMelo, Sean Walker and Alexandre Carrier. Needless to say the Maple Leafs’ GM has some options to consider.
Both Robertson and Liljegren are pending restricted free-agents which won’t scare off onlooking teams as neither will be demanding a significant raise. Toronto has a projected $18.5 million in cap space to work with, which should give Treliving a chance to bring in a free-agent or two. There’s also Max Domi and Bertuzzi to keep in mind. Both forwards appear as likely candidates to return based on the mutual interest to get extensions done. Moving out Marner could be the easiest way to create more cap space and help upgrade the roster, however the forward holds all the power with his no-movement clause. It’s unknown at this point what Berube thinks about Marner’s game and if he mentioned during the interview process that he’d like a crack at coaching him during his contract year. A season where he could be very motivated to produce and quiet the haters.
Treliving has his work cut out for him, there’s no doubt about it. He’s used one bullet to bring in ‘his guy’ behind the bench, and now the attention turns to just how much change he can provide to this Maple Leafs’ roster. One things for sure, he’ll be among the most active GM’s when it comes to trade conversations this summer, as ‘silly season’ has officially kicked off across the NHL.

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