Maple Leafs must be willing to go all out for the Stanley Cup

While the Toronto Maple Leafs have opened their training camp for the 2022-23 season, the biggest takeaway since opening day is that General Manager Kyle Dupas is in the hot seat because this is do-or-die season. If this season does not go as planned, it will not be extended to a new contract.

Dubas has made some great moves in the past, but others are being called into question. With fans growing increasingly dissatisfied with his work, this might be his last chance to make things right.

Stanley Cup competitors are constantly looking for ways to cut deals and let go of the pieces that might lead to their success. The Maple Leafs have been in this boat for the past few seasons and still have nothing to show for it. The Tampa Bay Lightning with their back-to-back titles and most recently the Colorado Avalanche are the teams that designed making big moves and deals to win now.

Kyle Dubas Toronto Maple Leafs General Motors
Kyle Dupas, Toronto Maple Leafs GM (Amy Irvine/Hockey Book)

Dubas is going to have to make some big moves to get his name into the fold. If Dubas wants to win the Stanley Cup, he’s going to have to make smart, tough, calculated moves to get all of that win.

Maple Leafs should not stop trading prospects

Season After a season of losing in the first round in the playoffs, the coaching and management staff at Maple Leafs still maintain confidence in their current group. why not? You have an elite playmaker in Mitch Marner, a strong moving defensive man in Morgan Riley and a goal scorer and best player in the league in Auston Matthews.

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While it’s great to hope your stars can get it done, sometimes that just isn’t enough. There is still a gap in LW’s second streak, which will provide significant competition for this season. But what if these options don’t work? What if Jake Muzin dealt with injuries as he did last season? Will the depth they add be enough to replace his effect as a two-way physical defender? He missed the beginning of the camp due to back discomfortalthough it seems simple.

We can’t predict the future and injuries will happen no matter what. Which is why when Maple Leafs have a chance to bring in a player who could be an impact piece in the playoffs, they shouldn’t be afraid to start trading away from some potential clients. Even though they’ve moved on to picks in the past, leads remain an essential piece in order to drive a solid return. Back in 2021, Dubas stated he wouldn’t be afraid to trade prospects for a win.

Rasmus Sandin Toronto Maple Leafs
Rasmus Sandin, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvine/The Hockey Book)

Since then, no prospect has moved as the Maple Leafs prospect pool is still under their top names. At the time, Dubas stated that Rasmus Sanden was untouchable. Now with more games under his belt and no contract in sight, perhaps the time to trade in a major young player is now. While Jacob Chicheron is still in play, the Maple Leafs shouldn’t be afraid to move a prospect or two for his services to bolster their defense. They shouldn’t be afraid to move Nick Robertson or Toby Nimella in order to bring in their top six strikers.

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While you shouldn’t substitute an option or a possibility for it, you do need to be smart about it and the Maple Leafs will be fine if they need to make that decision. They shouldn’t have to pay dearly for a player like the Florida Panthers with Ben Chirout – which gave them so little value.

The best example of this was Arturri Lehkonen’s avalanche deal that benefited them on their way to winning the Stanley Cup. They traded one of Justin Barron’s top leads with a second round pick. In the playoffs, Leconn finished 14 points in 20 games. His base numbers were big as he had a Corsi five out of five for 56.83 and scoring chances of 59.93. Lehkonen was a major factor for them and avalanche didn’t guess with this move because he got the contract extension.

Artturi Lehkonen Colorado Avalanche
Artturi Lehkonen, Colorado Avalanche (Photo by Codie McLachlan / Getty Images)

If Maple Leafs have to get the right player at the right price, they shouldn’t hesitate in this opportunity. With them failing to qualify, a calculated risk may be just what they need. Then again, we all saw how Nick Foligno and Tyson Barrie’s deals – which we were good moves at the time – were done. While they made a goal with Matt Murray, they could be even more powerful if they brought in another key player in the center.

Increase the maximum salary, move the pieces

The salary cap is still a glaring problem for Maple Leafs to make, but they have maneuvered and worked their way around it. Whether it’s salary retention or contract transfers, they’ve shown that even the impossible can be achieved with Assistant General Manager Brandon Bridham working on the books. With his ability to analyze and assess their situation, they remain in good hands.

There is also the fact that the maximum salary could increase for the foreseeable future. Which will be very beneficial for the Maple Leafs as they will have more room to make deals and potentially keep their notable Matthews and Marner names in the fold.

There is also the case of injury that could play into their hands, now that Timothy Lilligreen and Pierre Ingvale are on the shelves for the start of the season. Liljegren is expected to be out for six weeks and Engvall will be re-evaluated on October 3, according to David Alter. While they will be back in a few months and have internal options in the short term, having that extra flexibility will work to their advantage in future moves. I did it last season with Muzzin on LTIR and they brought in Mark Giordano.

Dubas sees the injured Michael Abramov has a back injury and is not in the camp. Joseph Wall is out with a shoulder injury. Pierre Engvall sustained an ankle/foot injury, re-evaluated on 3 October. Timothy Lilligreen had hernia surgery and was out six weeks.

Then there’s also talk of switching from players like Justin Hall, Alex Curfoot and even Muzin given his health. If Maple Leafs is able to move on from those contracts — which total $11.125 million — you can move those contracts to create space and even use your depth of possibilities to try to bring in more major shareholders.

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To make this work easier said than done. There will be a lot of moves and strategic planning of everything to put into place. They made things work in the past, and they have a chance to do so now.

money ball strategy

There is also the possibility to use the Money Ball playbook. Finding and replacing existing talent at the same level and at reasonable prices has paid off with the signing of Michael Banting and David Kampf. If Maple Leafs are able to do this in the free agent market, they may be able to do the same through the commercial route.

Finding underrated talent, such as Lehkonen, can be very valuable for future success. That one player you gain could be the difference between lifting the cup or coming home early. Sometimes you need to turn things around because deals deadlines can be crucial.

While some of the moves the Maple Leafs have made in the past haven’t gone unnoticed, that shouldn’t stop them from taking a cautious approach to making deals in a bid to win. They should not be afraid to trade the best assets in their system for a championship. After all, it will be worth it in the end.

Statistics from Natural Stat Trick.

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