The night before the draft, the NHL general managers all meet to discuss whatever is on the agenda from the Board of Governors meeting in Vegas before the NHL Awards. This year that was rule changes and a few other minor things.
When Kyle Dubas was waylaid by reporters after that meeting in Vancouver Thursday, he answered some burning questions. The first one was this:
Kyle Dubas says there's a good chance Patrick Marleau will remain with the #leafs into next season.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) June 21, 2019
This answer is mostly unsurprising, because how do you move that deal? The most recent speculation by Bob McKenzie on Overdrive revolved around a Byzantine arrangement of trading Marleau to a team that would buy him out (remember there is no cap relief for whoever buys him out when that’s done) and then he can re-sign in San Jose for a low amount for one year.
And now Dubas has basically said that won’t fly. And why would it? As McKenzie himself said, this scheme involves someone doing the Leafs a favour, and no one wants to do that. Not without getting paid for it.
So the ball is firmly back in Marleau’s court. This comes at an interesting time, since the other aging star nearing the end is Roberto Luongo, and there are rumours that he’s going to decide between playing, LTIR or retirement any day now. Retirement is an option for Marleau as well, but that alone doesn’t solve the Leafs problems directly. It would, at best, make his contract easier to dispose of to a team looking up at the salary cap floor, and we have one of those handy up the highway.
Marleau, it seems, wants to keep playing, and this announcement by Dubas might be a bit pointed, in that he is saying to Marleau, “If you’re going to play, it will be here.” Does Marleau want to play this season that badly? Only he can say. The Leafs would get a legit fourth-line left winger who adds value on the power play, at an amount six times what that should cost, and Marleau gets to play hockey for one more year at very limited minutes in a glory-free role far from his family.
Next up, Dubas was asked about offer sheets, trading Kadri, and other highly unlikely things:
Kyle Dubas says it's not a foregone conclusion the #leafs would match a Mitch Marner offer sheet. Indicates they's have to weigh the return -- just as they would with fellow RFA's Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) June 21, 2019
That’s what I call stating the obvious, but this is the season for that. Case in point:
"It's our full intention that Naz is going to be on the team."— Mike Zeisberger (@Zeisberger) June 21, 2019
- #leafs GM Kyle Dubas on Nazem Kadri.
Dubas did add that he'll listen to offers for any of his players.
In McKenzie’s radio hit linked above, he mentioned that, to trade Kadri, the Leafs would need a centre coming back, which sounds familiar, where have I heard that... oh yeah, to trade Nikita Zaitsev, the Leafs would need a defenceman coming back. There is no way to manufacture more guys by trading away the ones you have, not unless you’re taking back prospects who aren’t NHL-ready. The Kings got three assets for Jake Muzzin. The Leafs are not the Kings, and they aren’t going to get more back than they give. What the Leafs need to improve the roster is a team that wants future assets: picks and prospects. And then they have to be willing to part with them. If there’s one place a deal like that might happen, it’s Vegas.
The off-season salary cap is calculated differently.— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) June 20, 2019
Assuming #Vegas qualify the players below, they're already dangerously close to maxing out that cap space come July 1, with roughly $200,363 remaining.
Clarkson can also be placed on LTIR to exceed the off-season upper limit. pic.twitter.com/RFwxuN6p0L
If you read our story on the Leafs offseason cap situation, you know how this works. The Golden Knights can add whoever they like right now, but when the clock strikes midnight on July 1, the season turns over, and they have to fit under the offseason cap calculation. They need to move out someone now just to be ready for free agency. They aren’t selling Colin Miller in a strong position to begin with, since they made it clear they don’t like him. Now they really need to move a guy and they don’t want any salary coming back.
Vegas isn’t taking Zaitsev, but they might take picks. The question is, can a good deal be made? The only other very likely trade is some kind of roster forward (not Connor Brown) for Brett Pesce.
We’ll see where this goes, which is our new site motto for the duration.
Oh, and one other thing:
Kyle Dubas on the idea that Mitch Marner might be "greedy" in contract talks and whether he is worried about Marner's reputation as a result: "For me, Mitch Marner’s reputation is beyond reproach." #Leafs— Terry Koshan (@koshtorontosun) June 21, 2019
I like the way Dubas talks about his players. I hope that never changes.
UPDATE: the video
Of note, his offer sheet talk is about all players, not just Marner. But he says the Leafs aren’t offering to any RFAs on other teams out there!