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Weekend FTB: Does Dubas have some tricks up his sleeves?

Please let it be so if only to break up the long off-season.

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Toronto Maple Leafs v Buffalo Sabres Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

Kyle Dubas has a habit of pulling off the unexpected. That’s not to say he doesn’t do some things that we see coming. The Michael Bunting signing was rumoured or speculated as a possibility given both his likely affordability and the stereotypical Soo Greyhounds connection. We all knew the Giordano extension was coming before it happened, same for all the previous times Spezza re-upped with the Leafs in the past few years.

But then there are the moves that no one really thought of. Ondrej Kase and Nick Ritchie especially seemed surprising, though that was partly because we didn’t really know they’d be free agents. The David Kampf signing came out of nowhere in terms of rumours, and also because he seemed not a very Dubas-y type player. The Jared McCann trade certainly caught us all off guard, especially given what happened to him not long after.

While the Leafs have in the past few years always been up against the salary cap, and as a result limited to smaller moves around the margins, that doesn’t mean Dubas hasn’t found ways to make a mid-sized transaction. The Brodie signing, the Kadri trade, the Johnsson or Kapanen trades come to mind.

And now Dubas has some potential moves he may—or may need to pull off.

  • He can clear cap space through guys like Kerfoot, Holl or Mrazek.
  • He could trade the rights to RFAs like Kase or Engvall, or just not give them a qualifying offer.
  • He could go bargain bin shopping for UFAs to fill out their depth
  • He could/needs to resolve the goalie situation, through trade or UFA signing, and he could make more than one such move.
  • He could snap up other RFAs who go unqualified by their NHL teams like he did with Kase and Ritchie.
  • He could snap up a ”Group 6” free agent, like Michael Bunting was.
  • He could swing a more surprising trade for a piece of some significance.

There’s been tons of rumours going into this off-season. The arms race by elite teams trying to finally unseat Tampa Bay could heat up (Toronto, Florida), especially if they pull off the three-peat. There are a few teams who could be trying to cling to their contention window (Boston, Pittsburgh), or finally leap into contention after a long period of being bad (Ottawa, New Jersey, Detroit), teams who had off years who want to get back into contention (New York Islanders, Vegas), or... well I’ll just say Philadelphia.

Dubas may have a more quiet offseason like he did last year, but I think necessity will see a bit more activity this off-season. Should be fun!

ONTO THE LINKS!

The Maple Leafs and the NHL Draft — Why do they struggle with goalies? | by The Athletic

NHL Rumour Roundup: The buzz around Jack Campbell, John Gibson, Alex DeBrincat | by Sportsnet

Previewing the 2022 Memorial Cup | by TLN, and it includes some bits about Leafs’ prospect William Villeneuve who will be competing in the tournament with Saint John.

Speaking of which...

Leafs’ Goyette helps Villeneuve dial in on details ahead of Memorial Cup | by TSN

This week in 2022 NHL Draft articles:

MISCELLANEOUS HOCKEY LINKS

Insider Trading: What does the future hold for Trotz? | by TSN

Canadiens trade Shea Weber to Golden Knights for Evgenii Dadonov - Eyes On The Prize
It’s been rumoured for awhile, but Shea Weber is no longer a Montreal Canadien.

10 observations from Tortorella’s first Flyers media availability - Broad Street Hockey
John Tortorella addressed the media for the first time as the new Philadelphia Flyers head coach, detailing his vision for the club.

Old Time Hockey: A look back at the 1978 NHL Dispersal Draft - Litter Box Cats
NHL President John Ziegler gave the sagging Minnesota North Stars a Barons-fueled boost that resulted in two long playoffs runs.