Yesterday, Brad Treliving was officially named the General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Personally, I spent too long coming up with reasons why I was upset with this hire and not giving it a balanced view. And while some of my concerns of Treliving are valid along with the well-documented mistakes, I think I conveniently ignored some true, honest facts that deserve to be shared.
Treliving the person and professional
He is a very kind, thoughtful, and well-respected person within and outside the areas of his work.
Salim Nadim Valji of The Athletic spoke glowingly about Treliving as a person and professional, including how his mindset about hockey was more progressive than the Flames were willing to go during his time. He won't have that problem in Toronto now.
He also gave me a nice welcome to the city when I got this job back in 2020, called me while I was in Montréal & offered to help in any way. Treliving went above and beyond in that stuff, not just with me but others & as a spokesperson for the team (& city, really). #yyc— Salim Nadim Valji (@salimvalji) April 17, 2023
The Maple Leafs are getting a classy, good person. Brad really treated people well here.— Salim Nadim Valji (@salimvalji) May 31, 2023
I was always curious what Treliving would do if he worked for a franchise that invested more in plyr development, analytics, etc & was more progressive. Looks like we'll find out. #Flames
Don't know if he had the budget/green light for those off-ice investments/initiatives he wanted from ownership here!— Salim Nadim Valji (@salimvalji) May 31, 2023
The son of Jim Treliving
He has a long track record moving through the ranks as a hockey executive following a minor league playing career. With any other last name he would be seen as someone who has paid his dues and put in the work. His father and sister have seemingly stayed out of his career in a public way. After giving Treliving an honest look, he's earned his career as much as a child of a rich parent can.
Long career in minor hockey
Long before his time in the NHL, Brad Treliving spent decades as a hockey player and then executive in the South. Elite Prospects knows about Treliving's five seasons and 243 games in the ECHL, but following his playing career he co-founded the Western Professional Hockey League (WPHL), a league based in Texas and Louisiana.
Eventually his league would be merged with the Central Hockey League, and further absorbed into the present-day ECHL. Throughout those years Treliving served as the league's Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations, likely running many of the teams as league-owned. I'll link the Wikipedia below if you want to look at some of the great team names, like the Tupelo T-Rex.
After the WPHL folded, Treliving became the general manager of the San Antonio Rampage, before they were affiliated with the Phoenix Coyotes. Eventually when the Coyotes made the relationship formal, he worked next to current Leafs AGM Lawrence Gilman who was the representative from the Coyotes. They amalgamated that job a few years later and Treliving's career in the NHL began.
The Flames are sorry to lose him
Just to put this to bed because I also got it wrong, Brad Treliving left the Flames despite the team and his boss wanting to keep him. This wasn't over a contract dispute, but because Treliving just couldn't get along with Darryl Sutter, whom many believe was hired by people above Treliving rather than the GM himself.
Here are some words from Eric Francis following Treliving's departure in the least team-cheerleader column of his career, with additional context provided by Elliotte Friedman in 32 Thoughts below.
The tears shed at the podium said plenty about how sad and how embarrassing a day it was for the Calgary Flames. After nine years as GM, Brad Treliving made the difficult decision to do what few team architects ever do: walk away.
This was, without question, Treliving’s choice. He fired the Flames, not the other way around.
His contract was to expire June 30, but on Monday morning – five days after quietly informing then-assistant GM Don Maloney he was done – it was made official.
“Today is not a good day for me,” said Maloney, lamenting the awkward scene hours before the Stanley Cup Playoffs started. “Brad Treliving is a good friend and a very good hockey man. He left us, for his reasons. But we move on.”
It says here his reasons had plenty to do with the friction between Treliving and coach Darryl Sutter, who almost certainly isn’t going anywhere, thanks to the two-year contract worth more than $8 million committed to the former Jack Adams winner.
That aforementioned relationship with Sutter was as serious as you could imagine between two people who should theoretically be working closely together every day for a whole season.
It is believed a deteriorating relationship with Sutter played a major role in the GM’s decision, that the two could not continue working together and really hadn’t communicated well in some time. If Sutter didn’t have an extension, maybe the outcome is different.
He has a strong draft history
Brian wrote an excellent piece outlining Treliving's draft history and philosophy. If you haven't read it already you should.
Treliving has built contending teams
A measure of a good GM is whether the roster they construct can sustain a strong advantage in shots and ultimately goals on a regular basis. Here is the team rank of Treliving's team in four key categories (shots, expected goals, real goals, and shooting+save percentage) for the past five seasons.
Oops, sorry I lied, that was Kyle Dubas. This is Brad Treliving:
While the Leafs have been a very good team for the past several years, and their scoring chance generation has greatly improved, they've always struggled to get out of the top-10 conversation and be in the top-five tier. The Flames were a top-three shots and scoring chance team the past two years next to Carolina and Boston. Before 2019 they were also a top-five team in shots for a couple seasons.
One clear difference between the Flames and the Leafs based on these numbers is the Leafs ability to finish the chances that are generated where the Flames could not. Treliving now has a team that can finish. His job will be to build a roster and coaching staff around the talent that can provide chances at a high level.
On the coaching front, Treliving hired people from Carolina and Boston, and got similar shot share dominance from them. There's a lot of speculation around the Sutter hiring and whether that was ownership trying to punish the players, but Treliving's last two years with Sutter as the coach saw them generate offense and prevent defense on par with the aforementioned Hurricanes and Bruins.
Dean Chynoweth, formerly of the Hurricanes is on the Leafs coaching staff as an assistant coach. It should also be noted that Bruce Cassidy, who coached the Bruins, is now in the Stanley Cup Final with Vegas.
Various Leafs and Branches
The Toronto Maple Leafs will be losing the RFA rights to Kalle Loponen and Josh Pillar today at 5pm.
Loponen was a seventh round pick of the Leafs in 2019. He is 22 now and has spent two seasons in the Liiga, but has still been getting sent down to their minor league affiliates. Some prospects picked ahead of Loponen were Mike Koster, Nick Abruzzese, and Mikhail Abramov. Loponen is headed to the Allsvenskan with Västerås IK.
Pillar was a fourth round pick of the Minnesota Wild and acquired by the Leafs a few months ago for Ryan O'Reilly. At 21, Pillar has spent five seasons in the WHL with Kamloops and Saskatoon. There was likely an outside chance at a contract for a player the Leafs likely saw while scouting Kamloops' Fraser Minten, and maybe there's an AHL contract in his future with the Growlers and Marlies.
The full list of expiring player rights is below. I believe Justin Robidas was the only player to get a contract after this was published.
Caveat this with these statements below being "Friedman thinks" and not what Treliving actually said, but some hope for Leafs fans that Treliving wants the core and the core wants Toronto. As well, Treliving has had some very mobile and dynamic defenders on his teams (Hamilton, Giordano, Hanifin, Andersson, Kylington, Weegar). The Leafs might benefit from finding more. Unfortunately they also can't undo the Sandin trade. To loop back, I've said from the beginning if an outside observer comes to the team and believes in this group, it's good enough for me.
And for the replies to this account, Shanahan didn't fire Dubas because he wouldn't break up the core. He did it because he couldn't trust Dubas to be all-in. If the new GM comes in and does essentially what the old GM would've done, that's showing the team is not being reactionary and misguided. A small step in rebuilding trust and hope.
Also says he believes Matthews sincerely wants to stay as well as Marner and Nylander.— NHL Watcher (@NHL_Watcher) June 1, 2023
The Seattle Kraken have extended GM Ron Francis with another four year contract.
The Kraken were also named the best NHL broadcast in the USA by The Athletic.
It's not completely clear whether Kyle Dubas has said yes or no to the Pittsburgh Penguins yet, despite rumours flying. Pensburgh with more details.
Oh, Dobber, you beauties. This work was a large percentage of my time when I directly covered the Marlies pre-pandemic here.
Here it is - full AHL stats, game logs, per-game breakdowns, primary vs. secondary assists and linemates - IN THE AHL - for all goal events.— Dobber (@DobberHockey) May 31, 2023
Keeper Leaguers rejoice!
Here is Samuel Fajemo's AHL page:https://t.co/H8JAvfvSzk https://t.co/8YP8G8dVsz
"Give me your tired, your poor, your LTIR contracts yearning to breathe free." Turn right at the Statue of Liberty and head straight for Chicago.
New Predators GM Barry Trotz gets it when it comes to the Draft, and a reminder that progressive doesn't directly mean young.
Barry Trotz, on the upcoming draft, says he told his scouts to “take some swings, take some high end swings on some guys”— Alex Daugherty (@AlexDaugherty1) May 31, 2023
Then adds: “I can find you 3rd line, 4th line guys, no problem. Go get me some guys that get people out of their seats.” pic.twitter.com/jdAWKYTIhj