It seems like Toronto Maple Leafs’ general manager Kyle Dubas’ job is safe at the moment, despite his team getting eliminated by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the qualifying round. However, there is work to be done this offseason and many fans and pundits are demanding that Dubas puts together a trade that will bring a top defenseman to Toronto in order to get him off the hot seat.
Sportsnet insider Elliotte Friedman believes that forward Mitch Marner could be traded in order to get that help on the blue line, but he explained on Writers Bloc that the young forward might not be enough to land the perfect defender on the back end. He believes a pick will have to get thrown into the mix in order to get a star defenseman that can make the Maple Leafs a true contender.
What was more shocking from Friedman’s intervention, which was aired prior to last night’s second phase of the draft lottery, is that he was even hinting at the fact that the Leafs could include the 1st overall pick if the Leafs won it to upgrade on defense.
Dubas has limited salary-cap space to work with, carrying over 76.9 million invested in 17 players. While he was able to free up sufficient cap space last summer to re-sign Marner, there is no way he can make things work without a monster trade to move some assets and, more importantly, get a top blue liner on his roster.
Would Marner and a pick can a Seth Jones from the Blue Jackets? Michael Traikos of the Toronto Sun suggests moving William Nylander instead.
One thing is certain: Dubas has to make the right move! He had a terrible off-season last year, trading Nazem Kadri to bring in Tyson Barrie. The pickup failed as Barrie only weakened the Leafs defense. And on top of that, losing Kadri weakened their offense and physical approach to the game, which was clearly noticeable during the series against Columbus.
Now the pressure is on more than ever before. Will Dubas move Marner, Nylander, find the gem on the back end? Or will it be his last season at the reins of the Maple Leafs?