Former NHL GM calls for a dismantling of the Maple Leafs “Big 4.”

Former GM believes the Leafs must make a hard choice.


The Toronto Maple Leafs have some hard choices to make in the offseason and although those choices may be obvious to some, not everyone is of the same mind on these matters. The reality is that the Maple Leafs have made a huge commitment to their 'Big 4', a group of forwards comprised of Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Mitchell Marner and William Nylander, and although the popular belief is that the Leafs will continue to move forward with that group intact there are some who believe that group must be dismantled before the Leafs can be successful.

On a recent podcast former National Hockey League general manager Doug MacLean left no doubt about which way he believes the wind is blowing, or perhaps should be blowing, when he called on the Leafs to dismantle that group of 4 players in order to make moves he feels are necessary in order for the Leafs to become a serious playoff contender.

"People say 'well they are not gonna break up their big four' well I'm telling you, before I lose Hyman, you better do some serious soul searching as to how your team is gonna perform at playoff time," said MacLean on Kyper at Noon. "Because he is one guy that brings it."

MacLean was of course referring to pending unrestricted free agent forward Zach Hyman, a heart and soul player in a locker room that doesn't seem to have all that many of those at the forward position. It was clear based on MacLean's comments that he believes keeping Hyman on the Maple Leafs roster should be a top priority and he went so far as to suggest that he would be willing to move one of the aforementioned Big 4 if that is what it took to keep Hyman a Leaf.

"I would break up the Big 4 to get Hyman signed and to add another defenseman that they desperately need," said MacLean. "I said going into the playoffs that they weren't deep enough on the blue line, I didn't like their blue line. I love Morgan Reilly, (Jake) Muzzin gets hurt too often for me but I love him, Holl is fine, but that blue line wasn't good enough to play at playoff time, sorry. Something's gotta give to improve their team."

So which of the Big 4 would MacLean want to see moved in order to make the necessary space on the roster? Although the popular sentiment might be to move Mitch Marner after his struggles in the playoffs, MacLean felt that he is simply too valuable a player to move at this time.

"I hate to move Marner. I know Nylander was great in the playoffs, I know he played great but he's still the guy for me," said MacLean. "It's going to be him or Marner, something's gotta give in this Big 4. They can't move Tavares, and there's not a snowball's chance they are gonna move Matthews because he's too good."

Interestingly enough it sounds like MacLean, and his co-host Nick Kypreos as well, would move Tavares if given the chance. Neither man however seems to believe that the Maple Leafs will be able to do so in this current NHL climate.

"Tavares was kind of the wrench in all of this I think," said Kypreos. "Tavares is a nice player but they didn't need him at 11 million bucks."

"My god, look at the Islanders," said MacLean. "They lose their franchise player and they are a better team. Oh my god."

There are many tough decisions ahead to be sure for the Maple Leafs and more specifically for Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas, and perhaps some unpopular ones at that if the former NHL GM is right in his analysis of the Maple Leafs' current roster.