New plan emerges for the Core Four in Toronto! / TSN  

New plan emerges for the Core Four in Toronto!

Blockbuster trade, staying the course and now this? What’s the best way to go for new GM Brad Treliving?



The Toronto Maple Leafs have some tough choices to make thanks to their second-round elimination by the Florida Panthers. Right away, rumours emerged that the Core Four of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander and captain John Tavares needed to be dismantled in order to acquire a No. 1 defenseman or a power forward. Everything is being considered by new general manager Brad Treliving and the report from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman might be the new plan Maple Leafs’ management has in mind to take on the 2023-24 season. Friedman explained how the idea is not to break up the group but to seek a new identity for the 19 other players around the Core Four.

“I had a very interesting phone call with someone about all this stuff, about who’s signing for what and everything, and they said to me that they believe one of the things that came out of this season was that Toronto wanted to de-emphasize the Core Four,” said Friedman.

“Not that the organization feels anything negative towards those players, but I think there was a feeling among just the entire group — other players on the team, some of the coaching staff, the front office of the organization — that there’s too much about them. Too much about the Core Four … they felt it interfered in the growth of the team. And one of the things I heard that was talked about was if you take a look at the third and fourth line over the last few years, there’s been a lot of turnover. And what someone indicated to me was, the feeling was that they haven’t done a good enough job as a group — like, everybody — creating an identity for other players on the roster.

Friedman specified that it’s not about jealousy or any issues with the star players themselves, but having a strong cohesive identity through the entire lineup.

“I think it’s just that they have to get away from that and I believe some of the depth players may have talked about this, is that they feel it gets in the way of forming a team identity. And some of that you’re not gonna get away from because in the media we’re gonna talk about the Core Four, right? So you can’t escape it, but can you do a better job of creating an identity around some of the other players on the roster? And I heard that’s a big thing that they’re gonna try to work on.”

This could be the way to go if the Maple Leafs want another shot with all four star forwards. Since Treliving was hired as new GM, nothing has changed regarding Matthews’ intent to sign an extension with the Maple Leafs even though Kyle Dubas isn’t in charge anymore.

The hope could be to keep the Core Four, building around them and focus on the rest of the roster to make sure a strong identity comes out and gets the Maple Leafs running deep into the postseason as top contenders.