Kyle Dubas has been the GM of the Maple Leafs for two seasons. Here is a look at a few good things he’s accomplished in that time.
Signing John Tavares
In July of 2018 Kyle Dubas went after the biggest fish in the free agent pond – John Tavares. Dubas gave Tavares 11 million reasons to choose his hometown. Just the fact that Dubas decided to go after Tavares is a win, signing him was an even bigger win. Some argue that signing Tavares sped up the rebuild too fast and ruined the Maple Leafs salary cap. Rebuild or no rebuild, if you have the chance to sign a player such as Tavares, you do it. In his 145 games with the Maple Leafs, Tavares has scored 73 goals and added 75 assists for 148 points.
Re-signing the Young Guns
Although the signing of William Nylander proved to be difficult, getting Nylander signed and for just under $7 Million is a win. It may not have seemed like it when Nylander had just seven goals and a mere 27 points in the 54 games last season. The good news is he bounced back this season with 31 goals and 28 assists for 59 points in 68 games. The 31 goals is a new career high for Nylander.
The signing of Auston Matthews was pretty painless for Dubas. Everyone inside and outside of hockey knew that Matthews was going to get paid top dollar. The contract was signed by Matthews in February of 2019. Getting the deal done early and before becoming a restricted free agent (RFA) was important for Matthews. He would not have to worry about contract talks over the summer and he could just focus on playing. Knowing you are going to have to pay your best player top dollar makes the $11.6 million contract a bit easier for Dubas.
The last of the young guns to sign was Mitch Marner. During the contract negotiations there were rumours that Marner wanted $11 million like Tavares. Most hockey insiders thought the final number would be close to $10.5 million. Dubas was able to stay below $11 million and I’m sure it was not easy. The final number ended up being $10.8 million and will keep Marner in Toronto for 6 years.
Drafting Nicholas Robertson
In the second round of the 2019 NHL draft the Maple Leafs used their pick (#53) to select forward Nicholas Robertson. At the time of the draft Robertson was thought of as a good pick. Fast forward a few months and Robertson looks like a steal for Dubas and the Maple Leafs. Robertson was having a fantastic season with the Peterborough Petes in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). He put up 55 goals and 31 assists for 86 points in just 46 games. Many hockey insiders think he could be ready to make the jump to the NHL next season.
Firing Mike Babcock
A lot of Maple Leafs fans were not happy with some of Babcocks decisions and it appears that the players were not happy either. You could see early on that the players were no longer paying attention to what Babcock was teaching. He had clearly lost the room and the bench. Once he was fired, more things about Babcock came to light and the picture was made clearer. The team responded well and were playing with more energy under new head coach Sheldon Keefe.
Final Thoughts on Kyle Dubas
Some fans like Dubas and some clearly do not. I don’t think a hundred percent of the Maple Leafs fan base will ever like Dubas until his team starts going on deep playoff runs. So far I think he is doing more good than bad for the team and I believe that this team has a bright future. You can also count many other things Dubas has done as good for the team. Trading for Jake Muzzin. Signing Ilya Mikheyev. Signing Jason Spezza. Trading for Jack Campbell and Kyle Clifford. Getting Muzzin to sign a four year extension which starts next season. All of these things make Dubas a good GM in my eyes. The good far outweighs the bad when you look at the whole picture. The legacy of Kyle Dubas will ultimately come down to whether or not he can win a championship with the Maple Leafs.
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