Are Dubas and Babcock, Tavares on a collision course ?

With the Leafs coach Mike Babcock complaining he doesn't have " enough heavy skaters " and Leaf GM Kyle Dubas saying " He just doesn't buy it.", something may have to give. The Toronto Maple Leafs have skill to burn, they are four lines deep even but do they have the right balance ? The Leafs have now lost three out of four games beating only a Pettersson - less Vancouver team who claimed travel hurt their play in a 5 to 0 crushing. Kyle Dubas has acknowledged he covets a defenseman, apparently a right shooting one. Few would argue with that statement but the concern is that teams now target stars such as Auston Mathews, or Andreas Johnsson without fear of retribution. Toronto also had star Center John Tavares state " We need more grit." Toronto is not that strong on the boards and may be missing JVR and his ability to drive the net at times.

The question is, can the Toronto Maple Leafs contend this year? The answer is yes and they have no choice. The truth is anything can happen.No one truly knows the future.Wayne Gretzky got traded and both stars Mitch Marner, Auston Mathews as well as winger Kasperi Kapanen are due a big pay raise. Dubas says he isn't worried about offer sheets from other GM's hungry to lure a star into town and make the playoffs. What happens if someone offers star Center Auston Mathews $14 million per year ? Or for that matter Mitch Marner gets offered $11 Million ? How much does Kapanen want to stay in Toronto ?  No one really knows and it is possible this team could start to implode as early as this summer. This Leaf team has to take the chance while the chance is there and while they have the kids on the cheap payroll because it won't last. The kids need to be tested to see what they have(or don't have) and challenged in order to grow. This is afterall Toronto, and I haven't seen a chance like this since 1993. That was a long time ago. Many are concerned that Toronto might struggle in a 7 game series against some of the tougher opponents such as Boston, Washington and Tampa Bay. Not to mention Sidney Crosby and his suddenly hot Pittsburgh Penguins, winners of 8 straight.

If the Toronto Maple Leafs lost in the first round again it would not be pretty and the vultures would be looking for blood. The pressure is immense in Toronto and the fans even boo the second place team when they have a bad game. Could you imagine if Gm Kyle Dubas ignored coach Mike Babcock and John Tavares only to watch his stars get injured, pushed around and then lose in the first round ? There would be some egg on someone's face and most likely it would be GM Kyle Dubas. People might play the " He is inexperienced" card ,especially if they lost in the first round to ex GM Lou Lamoriello and the suddenly surging New York Islanders. One has to pick one's battles and Dubas might be wise to concede to Babcock's and Tavares' demands.

Toronto has the pieces to make a trade such as RW Jeremy Bracco who is playing well in the AHL with the Toronto Marlies. The Maple Leafs will likely lose a good player in the upcoming ,Seattle expansion draft anyway. It is good to be patient but not if the opportunity passes you by. If Toronto can add some rentals such Philadelphia's Wayne Simmonds and a veteran right handed defenseman, I highly doubt the Maple Leaf fans would hold it against him. If  Kyle Dubas does nothing and losses because a star gets injured or the Leafs get worn down by a bigger team, the Maple Leaf fans will jump him and not coach Mike Babcock. The coach isn't responsible for the product on the ice. His job is to optimize what he has. But if the coach and veteran Center John Tavares both express a need and it is ignored then that falls on the General Manager not the coach. Toronto Maple Leaf fans by and large are ready to go for it now. Anything can happen but the Washington Capitals took decades to win before they finally woke up and got more beef in their line up, even re signing Pelly- Smith to a one year deal. The choice GM Kyle Dubas faces is does he hold on to assets and keep drafting or does he protect his stars while helping his team avoid injuries ? The right player could also help their power play and their corner work while helping their stars avoid unneeded injuries or even targeting such as has happened with Auston Mathews.


While Kyle Dubas may or may not buy it , Coach Mike Babcock and veteran John Tavares clearly do. One also has to wonder how Brennan Shanahan, a former big, tough scoring winger views things. Kyle Dubas may be playing possum, after all he was trained by Lou Lamorello. At the end of the day if he doesn't address these concerns the blame should the Leafs exit early will fall on the inexperienced GM and in Toronto, the center of the hockey universe that won't be easy to live down. I'm hoping Kyle Dubas sees the light and is just waiting for the right trades at the right cost while waiting for trade deadline since the Leafs are in a comfortable spot right now, in second place at this writing. While Kyle Dubas may feel pressure from coach Mike Babcock and John Tavares he will surely preach patience just as Lou would have taught him to do. Fret not Leaf fans, when the time comes The Maple Leafs will add the pieces at a price that makes sense and if they do they have a real chance to get to the Stanley cup or at least win one round, helping the kids to grow. In the brutal East conference  this year anyone could beat almost anyone. Anyone could get injured, worn down or lose a key player. It is the kind of year whoever is the most healthy could easily win and if by some miracle they made it out of the East the odds are whoever wins the West this year won't be nearly as tough as the teams they have previously played in the Eastern conference. Toronto needs to progress this year, they need to win a round or two. Maple Leaf fans also have to be patient, Kyle Dubas may have to find a way to unload defenseman Nikita Zaitsev and his $ 4.5 Million a year contract that he inherited. If he can do that, he not only will look brilliant he will have the needed cap space to add what Toronto clearly needs. Toronto is in need of a veteran top 3 right handed defenseman and a top 9 "heavy skating " forward. Toronto has clearly missed Zach Hyman and injuries will likely play a factor in this year's playoffs. If Kyle Dubas sits idle many of us feel a first round exit is highly possible and the fallout from that in Toronto would be immense.

Footnote: In a 4 to zero loss to Nashville coach Babcock lamented " It was men versus boys." Hint,hint.

Feb 20 2019: Coach Mike Babcock has put defenseman Ron Hainsey back with Morgan Reilly on the top pairing. Newly acquired Jake Muzzin is playing with Nikita Zaitsev furthur down the line up. The rumour is coach Babcock is sending a message to GM Kyle Dubas that he wants a right handed defenseman badly. One has to wonder about the relationship between these two when they need to communicate this way.

Feb 21st 2019: Heavy hitting Washington Capital forward Pelly-Smith,a force in last year's Washington Capital Stanley cup run, was waived and cleared waivers yesterday. Mike Babcock had lamented his lack of heavy sakters while John Tavares had said " We need more grit" in our lineup. While it is understandable that Leaf GM Kyle Dubas wants to hold onto prospects such as 2nd round pick  RW Jeremy Bracco and defenesmean Liljegren and Sandin both former first round picks, Pelly- Smith would have been a free pick up . It is hard to see how Pelly- Smith could have hurt their 4th line and could have been a heavy hitter for them in the playoffs if the Leafs face their nemesis the Boston Bruins. He also has a Stanley cup ring and could provide both protection and leadership to a small, soft but highly skilled Leaf forward group that lacks size and grit. One can only think Toronto Maple Leaf GM Kyle Dubas has a trade up his sleeve since Mike Babcock is over playing Ron Hainsey on the top pair and has newly acquired defenseman Jake Muzzin playing furthur down the line up with Zaitsev. 3 days to go till trade deadline and many fans think the Maple Leafs need to make some additions or they face another first round exit again, which would make it 3 years straight.I doubt many fans would be impressed with that. After all this is pro sports and the fans have the right to demand results not excuses, year after year after year. Losing breeds losing.

Devante Smith-Pelly

Right Wing -- shoots R
Born Jun 14 1992 -- Scarborough, ONT
[26 yrs. ago]
Height 6.00 -- Weight 223 [183 cm/101 kg]
Drafted by Anaheim Ducks
- round 2 #42 overall 2010 NHL Entry Draft
  
Devante Smith-Pelly hockey player photo 
Regular SeasonPlayoffs
SeasonTeamLgeGPGAPtsPIM+/-GPGAPtsPIM
2008-09Mississauga St. Michael's MajorsOHL5713122524-4112354
2009-10Mississauga St. Michael's MajorsOHL60293362352716861420
2010-11Mississauga St. Michael's MajorsOHL673630665049201562116
2011-12Anaheim DucksNHL49761316-7----------
2011-12Syracuse CrunchAHL401121----------
2012-13Norfolk AdmiralsAHL6514183265-20----------
2012-13Anaheim DucksNHL70000-4----------
2013-14Anaheim DucksNHL192810251250524
2013-14Norfolk AdmiralsAHL5527164329-1----------
2014-15Anaheim DucksNHL5451217121----------
2014-15Montreal CanadiensNHL2012312-2121232
2015-16Montreal CanadiensNHL46661222-2----------
2015-16New Jersey DevilsNHL1885138-1----------
2016-17New Jersey DevilsNHL5345912-19----------
2017-18Washington CapitalsNHL75791638-62471812
2018-19Washington Capitals*NHL5444815-6
2018-19Hershey BearsAHLStatistics Unavailable
NHL Totals3954457101137481331638


Regular SeasonPlayoffs

TeamLgeGPGAPtsPIM+/-GPGAPtsPIM
2008-09Mississauga St. Michael's MajorsOH5713122524-4112354
2009-10Mississauga St. Michael's MajorsOHL60293362352716861420
2010-11Mississauga St. Michael's MajorsOHL673630665049201562116
2011-12Anaheim DucksNHL49761316-7----------
2011-12Syracuse CrunchAHL4011
1----------
2012-13Norfolk AdmiralsAHL6514183265-20----------
2012-13Anaheim DucksNHL70000-4----------
2013-14Anaheim DucksNHL192810251250524
2013-14Norfolk AdmiralsAHL5527164329-1----------
2014-15Anaheim DucksNHL5451217121----------
2014-15Montreal CanadiensNHL2012312-2121232
2015-16Montreal CanadiensNHL46661222-2----------
2015-16New Jersey DevilsNHL1885138-1----------
2016-17New Jersey DevilsNHL5345912-19----------
2017-18Washington CapitalsNHL75791638-62471812
2018-19Washington Capitals*NHL5444815-6
2018-19Hershey BearsAHLStatistics Unavailable
NHL Totals395445710113748
31638

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