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Insider Trading: Leafs turn attention to GM search

Kyle Dubas and Brendan Shanahan Kyle Dubas and Brendan Shanahan - The Canadian Press

In Tuesday’s edition of Insider Trading, TSN Hockey Insiders Chris Johnston, Darren Dreger, and Pierre LeBrun join host Gino Reda to discuss the Toronto Maple Leafs and the details surrounding the departure of Kyle Dubas, the search for a new general manager, and what the roster may look like going forward.

Brendan Shanahan went through an incredibly detailed recap of how he decided to remove Kyle Dubas. So we’re all anxious to hear Dubas’ side of the story, but he comes out with a statement that virtually said: ‘No comment.’ Remember just a week ago [Dubas] said ‘It was Leafs or nobody’ but is that starting to shift now?

Johnston: Well, it certainly seems like a possibility and I’ll point you to the title of the statement Kyle Dubas put out, called “Onward” and it does appear he is moving onward. And of course we know the Pittsburgh Penguins have already received permission from the Maple Leafs to have a conversation about their openings. As someone pointed out to me, the paradigm has shifted here. When Kyle Dubas mentioned he wasn’t going to walk away from the Maple Leafs, that’s when he was involved in negotiations, trying to get an extension done with the team and he was removing the possibility of other clubs. Now that they’ve walked away from him, I think it’s very possible and the smart money would be on him being open to other opportunities out there.

So while Dubas tries to decide about his future, Shanahan and the Leafs are on the clock, especially as Matthews, Marner, and Nylander all have no-moves that kick in on July 1. What’s the latest on their [general manager] search?

Dreger: I want to take you back to last Friday and Brendan Shanahan laid out the parameters very thoroughly, I would say. Right near the top of his list is an experienced general manager. I believe they have engaged with Brad Treliving, so the process is underway. What I don’t expect Shanahan and company to do is go through the process similar to what Calgary did, likewise what Pittsburgh is doing in search of their general manager, where they identify as many as maybe a dozen candidates to interview. So this could be a week, it could be more. No specific timeline, but again they are leaning on experience. I know that the St. Louis Blues would like all the speculation around their general manager, Doug Armstrong, linking him to the Toronto Maple Leafs to go away. A high-ranking source within the Blues’ organization describes the speculation as fabrication. They value Doug Armstrong because of the work that he’s done as general manager, very successful GM and he’s also under contract. So it’s unlikely Armstrong is going anywhere.

LeBrun: There’s no question the reasons Armstrong’s name is out there because the Leafs would have talked about him internally because he is in many ways the ideal candidate – checks all the boxes, except that he’s not available. For him to become available, one of two things would need to happen: Doug Armstrong would have to go to his boss and say ‘This is a special opportunity, can I see what’s going on here?’ or Brendan Shanahan would have to say ‘I know your GM has three more years left on his deal, but is there anyway I can talk to him?’ Again, it seems like a long shot, but you understand why the speculation is out there, because he would be the ideal fit in Toronto.

In a perfect world, the Leafs would love to extend Auston Matthews before his no-move kicks in because after that, they have virtually no leverage at all. Any progress on those discussions?

Johnston: Really all there has been is a mountain of speculation – since Kyle Dubas and the Maple Leafs parted ways – about what this might mean for Auston Matthews, whether it’s likely or more likely to get a deal. What I can tell you is nothing has changed since the last time we heard Auston Matthews speak in front of the cameras. It’s his intention to remain in Toronto as he said on locker cleanout day. Really at this point in time, he’s just sitting back and watching and seeing how this plays out. Him and his agent need to get all the data here. Who is the new general manager? What is his or her vision for the team? Who’s coaching the team? All the roster decisions that are coming. I think it’s obviously going to take some time for that to shake loose. I should mention as well that the Leafs’ top players, in their discussions with Brendan Shanahan, were told that they are not likely to be moved, that the vision right now is the core four will be back next year. So that obviously includes Auston Matthews.

The Leafs lost their general manager. They may move on from their head coach. And apparently they could be losing other bodies from inside the organization as well?

LeBrun: Yeah. Assistant coach Spencer Carbery. I don’t know that this is shocking. There was always a sense that even if Kyle Dubas was GM, that Carbery was going to draw attention from other teams. He did last summer as well. He met Monday with the Washington Capitals, we’re told. Remember he used to work in the Capitals’ organization. He also has drawn interest, we’re told, from the Anaheim Ducks and the New York Rangers. So, we’ll see where that goes for Spencer Carbery.