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Report: Dubas in as Leafs GM?

Leafs insider James Mirtle reports on the latest behind the scenes developments with the team's management group.

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With multiple reports indicating that the Toronto Maple Leafs are actively planning a succession plan for current general manager Lou Lamoriello this offseason, The Athletic’s James Mirtle takes a look at Leafs assistant general manager Kyle Dubas in his latest column and attempts to connect the dots on the Leafs’ management strategy.

According to Mirtle the Leafs brass already has the plan in place, they just haven’t let the media or the team’s fanbase in on things yet.

…at some point, Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan sat down with both Lou Lamoriello and Kyle Dubas and laid out the succession plan.
Lamoriello, now 75, would be moving into another, less prominent role. Dubas, now 32, would become the Leafs GM.

The impetus for such a move? Well besides the fact that Lamoriello is now a decade past his retirement age, Mirtle reports that the Colorado Avalanche pushed hard to hire Dubas away from the Leafs last offseason, but were rebuffed. Concerned that they’ll lose Dubas to other opportunities, the Leafs want to ensure that their boy wonder remains with the organization indefinitely.

As Mirtle sees it, there are three potential scenarios facing the Leafs this offseason when it comes to the GM position:

1. Lamoriello is extended as GM, for one more year, and Shanahan attempts to convince Dubas to stay on and keep waiting. (HNIC reported on the weekend Lamoriello is under contract for some undisclosed role beyond this season but has been told this is his final year as GM.) There could be four or five GMs let go elsewhere in the NHL, so there's no guarantee Dubas will stay. But that's a possibility.
2. Dubas is named GM. Lamoriello would, in theory, become a senior advisor or some such thing, like the role that Cliff Fletcher has currently. Those who know Lamoriello will say that this isn't a great fit for him, as he likes to have control over personnel decisions, team culture and everything else. He didn't last long, for example, as an advisor to Ray Shero in New Jersey. And pushing Lamoriello out against his will would be a very difficult call for Shanahan given they have been so close going back to when Lou's Devils drafted him 31 years ago.
3. Someone else entirely becomes GM — possibly Hunter. I think this is a long shot, but you never know. If Dubas leaves and Shanahan wants to shift Lamoriello out of the seat of power, there could be an unexpected shift. Maybe they even look outside the organization.

It’s interesting that Mirtle considers a promotion for Dubas’ co-assistant GM Mark Hunter as a “long shot”. The veteran Hunter has a track record of success in management at both the NHL and OHL level with the Leafs and the London Knights. As a fourth option, could Dubas and Hunter not work together in tandem as a management team? It seems that the Leafs already operate under a “group” model when it comes to personnel decisions already, so why hand things over to Dubas, or someone else, entirely?

Injury Report: Matthews practices, not cleared to play

According to a report from TSN analyst and Leafs insider Mark Masters, Leafs superstar Auston Matthews joined his teammates for practice yesterday, donning a red “no contact” jersey for drills:

Check it out:

As Masters notes, todaymarks two weeks since Matthews went down with a shoulder surgery and he’s been rehabbing and testing the shoulder nearly every day since then. Officially Matthews is out “day to day” with an upper body injury, but Leafs head coach Mike Babcock admitted that the term “day to day” can mean just about anything. One day, ten days… they’re all “day to day” for the team’s coaching and management staff.

So, what could this mean for Matthews’ return? It’s too early to tell yet, but the team does have a four day break ahead of Saturday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, so it’s not inconceivable to imagine him making his return for that game. 

“I don’t know what they (medical staff) will do. I just noticed he was wearing red today and we don’t have a whole lot of red in our uniforms,” the Leafs head coach when asking whether or not Matthews will play on Saturday night.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding Matthews, Babcock still feels that yesterday’s developments are positive. “Well, I think it’s good for him, right,” Babcock said. “Just mentally, instead of hanging out by yourself. We were gone for 10 days and these are his buddies, so who do you hang out with in Toronto?”

Fair enough… but you’ll excuse Leafs fans if they’re not too worried about who Matthews is hanging out with after games. We’re more concerned with wins and losses and the Leafs are in the middle of a bad stretch right now. The team needs Matthews back ASAP, but with a tough playoff series on the horizon likely against the Boston Bruins, it’s understandable why the team has been taking things so cautiously with Matthews. Better to get him at 100% a week or two from now than at 75% right now.

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Source: James Mirtle
Photo Credit: The Athletic