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Insider Trading: Leafs making progress on search for new GM

Brad Treliving Calgary Flames Brad Treliving - Terence Leung/NHLI via Getty Images

The TSN Hockey Insiders Chris Johnston, Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger join host Gino Reda to discuss the latest on the search for a general manager in Toronto, the future of Auston Matthews and some potential candidates for the head coaching vacancy in Calgary.

It has been over a week and a half since the Leafs parted ways with Kyle Dubas. Where are they in the process of finding their new general manager?

Dreger: Well, what we can tell you is that the process is moving along and it's very difficult to do a play-by-play of this because Brendan Shanahan and the Toronto Maple Leafs are trying to keep a tight lid on this. We know that Brad Treliving has been a primary target of the Maple Leafs, really since the process began. But trying to identify other top candidates is a sketchy business. It's also possible that Shanahan could make an offer by the end of this week, and that has more to do with the situation than with the calendar year. The NHL combine in Buffalo is slated for next week and then you've got the NHL draft around the corner. So, the Maple Leafs need a general manager sooner than later.

LeBrun: One candidate we've confirmed has had a discussion with Brendan Shanahan is Marc Bergevin. No surprise. We had identified him last week as a possibility. What we're told is that he spoke with Shanahan over Zoom last Friday. It's a conversation that lasted a couple of hours. Again, I'm with [Dreger] here. I believe absolutely that Brad Treliving remains the frontrunner and the person that Shanahan ultimately may try to hire. But it's no surprise he would want to pick the brain of someone like Bergevin, who for 10 years was in a pressure-cooker job in Montreal. Pretty similar pressure level to that of being the Leafs GM. Where it goes beyond that in terms of Bergevin and the Leafs, I'm not sure [it's] really going anywhere, but they certainly had a discussion.

Johnston: Meanwhile, there's been a fair amount of conjecture about the relationship between Kyle Dubas and Auston Matthews as it pertains to Matthews' future in Toronto. And I think it's actually been a little bit overstated. Shocker, something like that might happen around the Leafs. But in this case, the relationship obviously between those two was good. But what I can tell you is that since Dubas was let go earlier this month, the lines of communication have remained open between the Leafs and [Matthews'] camp. Obviously not really making any progress at this point in time. They’re having firm discussions about a contract he can sign on July 1st, but I don't think introducing a new general manager at this point in time is going to derail that. Matthews has wanted to be in Toronto. He's been consistent about that. That's what the organization feels. And I think once they have that new general manager in place, those conversations will pick up rather quickly.

It has been a week since Craig Conroy took over the GM role in Calgary. Is he any closer to finding a new man to run his bench?

Dreger: Well, they're in it this week, no doubt about that. On Monday, they moved into full gear. And what that means is internal discussions among the management group and the process of beginning Zoom calls with some of the candidates and also seeking permission for those who are under contract. We talked about this last week. I look at Gerard Gallant – an experienced NHL coach recently let go by the New York Rangers – as being a top qualified candidate. I look at Travis Green – if he's not scooped up by another team that's in the market for a head coach, he'll be a top candidate. The internal guys include Kirk Muller, Mitch Love, Ryan Huska – all strong candidates. And here's one kind of out of left field: The Ontario Hockey League and Windsor Spitfires' Marc Savard, who is believed to be getting some consideration as well.

LeBrun: In the meantime, the Washington Capitals announced the hiring of Spencer Carbery on Tuesday. Not surprising. He's someone that had been their AHL head coach a couple of years ago and he was seen as the frontrunner. But the Leafs assistant coach was certainly in high demand. Spencer Carbery also interviewed with the Rangers, with the Anaheim Ducks and with the Nashville Predators. The Predators on this day announcing the firing of head coach John Hynes. They're expected to announce Andrew Brunette as a new head coach on Wednesday.

Patrice Bergeron certainly thought he had a great shot to win the Cup with the Bruins this year, would have been a great cap to a terrific career, but that didn't happen. So, where do you think he goes from here?

LeBrun: I checked into that situation today. It's still undecided where that matter is at. Listen, the Bruins are putting zero pressure on their captain. They've got all the time in the world to wait for him to make a decision. Listen, Patrice Bergeron, by the way, and his wife are expecting their fourth child next month – so, there are more important things in their life than hockey. But at some point, he needs to make a decision. Last year he didn't sign with the Bruins until August, although he told the team in July that [he] intended to come back. So, that might give you a bit of a timeline. But as someone close to it said to me today, there is no timeline. Everyone is waiting patiently for Patrice Bergeron to decide his future.

As the Panthers and Knights get set to drop the puck on the Cup final this Saturday, the NHL has already made some decisions of what can happen with the Cup this summer.

Johnston: Yeah, and specifically what can't. It won't be going to Russia or Belarus for a second straight year because of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. And what that means is that if Sergei Bobrovsky were to finish off his magical run with the Panthers, he couldn't take it to his home town, at least not this summer. Same with Ivan Barbashev on Vegas' side of things. Actually, it was Barbashev and his former teammate, Vladimir Tarasenko with St. Louis, who last had the cup in Russia. That was all the way back in August 2019.