Rival NHL teams targeting Kyle Dubas as their next GM.

Rival NHL teams targeting Kyle Dubas as their next GM.

Additional pressure on the Maple Leafs regarding their young and talented general manager.

Jonathan Larivee

The Toronto Maple Leafs sent a clear message to general manager Kyle Dubas when they allowed him to enter this season on an expiring contract. The message, at least from the outside looking in, appeared to be that if Dubas doesn't get results this season that the Leafs might look elsewhere for leadership in the future.

That may sound like a solid plan from a team that is demanding results and that has incredibly high expectations for its franchise, but it sounds like it may have also made the Leafs particularly vulnerable when it comes to Dubas moving forward.

On Sunday, Toronto sports columnist Steve Simmons revealed that there is a growing sense around the National Hockey League that rival teams are targeting Dubas as their next potential general manager, should the Leafs and Dubas fail to agree on an extension prior to the end of his current contract. Although Simmons believes there may be more than one team interested in the current Leafs general manager, he specifically singled out the Pittsburgh Penguins as a particularly interested party.

From Simmons:

One of those teams is thought to be the Pittsburgh Penguins, where general manager Ron Hextall is in difficulty and the status of club president Brian Burke is uncertain.

The Penguins were recently purchased by the Fenway Sports Group and have very deep pockets as a result, and they certainly could make a competitive offer for Dubas' services should he become available.

The other issue here for the Leafs is that Dubas will almost certainly catch wind of these reports and if both he and his representatives are aware of interest around the league, it will give him considerably more bargaining power when it comes to his next contract.