Time to play Leaf GM - Kyle Dubas files 2020 + trade rumours

Well, once again the tide turns and the Leafs find themselves in a 3 game losing slide, ending with an asset whoopin, 8 to 4 loss against Florida. Too many nights the Leafs left their goalie out to dry and with no backup, they over relied on Frederick Andersen. Anyone could see it coming, another first round loss. The team wasn't properly built to deliver playoff success in it's current form. So, what changes needed to be made?

For one thing the Leafs were loaded on the wings with 3 defensemen ready to hit unrestricted free agency.Cody Ceci,Jake Muzzin and Tyson Barrie were all UFA's with prospects Timothy Liljegren and Rasmas Sandin ready in the wings.So far, letting our UFA's play it out and leave for free i.e JVR, Gardiner hadn't paid off. And the Leafs had once again given away two first rounders, that could come back on them down the road.Dubas had gambled that a coaching change was all that was needed but the honeymoon was ending. This was on the G.M to fix.

So, what did the genius GM have to offer? Andreas Johnsson was coming off injury reserve as Morgan Reilly went in. He had Ceci and Barrie but not much else. Jeremy Bracco, Timashov and Ben Harpur were not very likely to get other GM's salivating and let's face it , the prospect pool had been stripped dry. 2nd rounder Robertson and Korshkov had some upside but were a ways away.

Where did this leave Maple Leaf GM Kyle Dubas? No where good. His most likely trading partner was Edmonton who had Darnell Nurse and Anaheim with Josh Manson.The problem? The piece that would get the most attention, Tyson Barrie would peak, in value, at trade deadline.The Leafs needed help now, especially in goal, as in backup.

To be quite frank, there is nothing in Dubas' arsenal that would make other teams take the leap. Dubas was stuck waiting for another team to call, which very well could happen. The problem is the pressure to do that won't come until another team acknowledges their need.That team was the Edmonton Oilers who with Johnsson and Barrie could very well make a push for the playoffs. The problem is it will take more than those two to make Edmonton move Darnell Nurse and Anaheim won't even need Barrie, being out of the playoffs already.

Dubas was in waiting, hands tied. He had fired the coach and every team gets a burst when you do that.Now as we enter the second half of the NHL season, the team that Dubas built gets tested and despite what people think, if he losses in the first round, again..well. It won't be pretty.This team isn't built for playoff success but it is sure paid like it. Dubas looks like a guy shuffling pieces to make his cap work. The problem is he hasn't built a team that can't win it all, nor does he have the pieces to make it happen.

Let's hope Dubas really is a genius, he will need to be to avoid another first round loss and any fan can see it coming.

Suggested trade:1) Johnsson,Barrie,Ceci and Bracco for Darnell Nurse plus a first rounder.
2)Another suggestion was Johnsson and Barrie for one of Bufalo's Montour or Ristolenien.

No guts , no glory. Dubas gets cap relief while admitting that Tyson Barrie wasn't the right kind of RHD for our defense.If anything Barrie has underperformed and is hurting his own UFA leverage. One has to wonder, will he ask for a trade soon? The Leafs are not a Tyson Barrie away from a Stanley cup and our defense still needs some real help.The reality is Barrie is more valuable to another team that is perhaps that one p.p specialist away.

Proposal one:Oilers make the playoffs, the Leafs get a potential top 3 defenseman with grit and they get much needed cap relief.

Proposal two : Leafs keep Liljegren a RHD  and become tougher to play against defensively while giving up some offense.

The Leafs are in an interesting cap situation if they decide Morgan Reilly is out until the playoffs. There is no cap for the playoffs, and while Muzzin will be back soon they can use Reilly's cap and trade for another defenseman.Dubas would be wise to also address backup goaltending as Andersen needs to be 100 percent for the Leafs to go beyond the first round.

Update Jan 23rd 2020. With defenseman Morgan Reilly out with injury and the Leafs playing very , very poorly now a trade is highly likely. There will be a great deal of pressure on Dubas, as any amateur could take a team this good, miss the playoffs and lose a first rounder in the process.If the playoffs are missed this will represent abject failure and there will be calls for a new GM to fix the mess Dubas has made.

The team is misbuilt based on a some fictional, unproven "Moneyball the movie" analysis from a person who never played hockey. The entire build is based on smallish, offensive players  , no defense and major holes due to lack of cap space.Anyone with a modicum of hockey knowledge could do this or see that it is a failed experiment at the fan's expense.If the playoffs were missed the pressure to fire Dubas and get a real GM would be immense and too powerful to ignore.It is impossible to ignore the 8 to 4 and 6 to 2 losses,the way the Leafs have been losing and the fact that all the Leafs were doing was relying on goalie Frederick Andersen too much and outscoring other teams.You can't do that in the last half of the season or in the playoffs, when the games becomes more intense and physical and you have a small weak team that can't play defense.If Andersen gets injured this team is toast.

Update Jan 23rd 2020: Rumours are building as the New York Rangers try to pump the tires on goalie Alexander Georgiev who is 23 and himself an RFA soon. They want Kapanen plus so you can ignore this media concoted attempt to fleece the Leafs. The Leafs need a backup but not at that media over inflated price. The most they pay is a pick and a prospect.Backups are a dime a dozen especially at TD and the Leafs have a far more pressing need for a defenseman.Rangers are calling, Dubas is " No thanks." This one doesn't work for the Leafs, one they can't resign him and two Leafs aren't looking to move Kapanen, you have the wrong guy. With the Sheldon Keefe(new coach) wearing off expect more of these vain attempts to trick the Leafs into a trade that doesn't work for them, solve there problems but get them to overpay. This rumour comes from the same guys who said Kapanen was only worth a 2nd rounder...ROFL. Odds of this one , one 1 out of 10. Another media fantasy.

A more likely trading partner would be the Oilers who are looking at Johnsson, Kerfoot or Kapanen. But the Leafs will want Larsson or Nurse. Odds 4 out of 10 right now, the Leafs don't actually have the depth at Center to trade Kerfoot.They will offer Johnsson plus.

Another rumour making some sense is Anaheim's Josh Manson. He is 28, tough as nails and has some term left.Johnson and Bracco would be the two offensive,cheap forwards most likely to help a rebuilding Duck team but they will want a young dman such as Lilgren to take on Ceci to make it work . The deal would leave Dubas some cap to get a backup Goalie. Lilkelyhood 5.5 out of ten.Dubas won't want to give up Liljegren but he can't afford another first either.Tricky but plausible.

Jan 31st 2020: Rumours are out there the Leafs may be kicking the tires on Minnesota Wild's defenseman Dumba.  Plausible but most likely too costly. 4 out of 10.

Feb 6th 2020:Leaf GM Kyle Dubas finally made his move, picking up the 29 year old LW Kyle Clifford and goaltender Jack Campbell from the Los Angeles Kings for Trevor Moore, a 3rd rounder and a conditional 3rd rounder(2021). Clifford is a 6ft 2 inch, 206 lb banger who can play and will be noticed if the Leafs make the playoffs. Campbell is a 28 year old, more than capable backup who was drafted in the first round by Dallas in 2010. Time will tell if Dubas makes anymore moves as the cap may hinder any need for a veteran defenseman.

Word is Dubas is price sensitive. Since our likely first round opponent is Boston, Wash. ,TB, or Pitts. Only a reasonably priced Dman such as Anaheim's Josh Manson seems likely. You can't outskill those teams and it could be another game 7 battle royale !

The likely ask on Manson will be Johnsson and Liljegren. Odds Dubas pays that ? Very low. With Johnson now out for 6 months, Dermott, Bracco plus maybe.

Very plausible rumours have several teams interested in Tyson Barrie. The problem they will be offering late first rounders.Dubas will be looking to flip Barrie into a good RHD defenseman with term or close to NHL ready prospects.There is pressure on Dubas here, the prospect pool is barren now, the draft picks are thin.Best guess. Three way trade, Dubas trades Tyson Barrie, then lands Josh Manson.The best shot Toronto has is to wear their playoff opponent down over 7 games and let their stars be stars.Even if Toronto makes the playoffs, the path this year in the East is brutal.

Update Feb 26th. Poor Kyle Dubas. The Leafs are getting hit by the worst rash of injuries I can ever recall. "Depth" has really come to the forefront this year. With Muzzin now out for 4 weeks with a broken hand, newly re acquired Calle Rosen get his chance and Dubas prays this line up makes the playoffs after a great 4 - 3 victory over Tampa Bay.