Toronto Maple Leafs’ Assistant General Manager, Kyle Dubas, was on TSN Drive with Dave Naylor and Steve Simmons discussing GM & Coaching candidates, the upcoming 2015 NHL Draft and more.
Latest update with management:
Everything is up always here with us and we’re just wrapping up our final amateur scouting meeting this week. Obviously, unfortunately, neither the Leafs or the Marlies remain in action. With that it doesn’t mean our workload is dialled back, we’ve got a lot of work to do and we’ve got two first round picks here that are of utmost importance to us as we work to get this thing going in the right direction. Our efforts to be very thorough and more thorough than ever in our approach to the draft is what is consuming the majority of our time now. It’s exciting and a fun opportunity to be able to work with our scouting staff led by Dave Morrison and Mark Hunter; some great debates and work this week.
On the GM search:
With the general manager, it’s a bit more interesting. Brendan is more handling that, and we just continue to do our jobs – Mark and I – continue to do our jobs the best we can and have the place as ready as possible for whoever that candidate is that comes in. On the coaching front, we’re heavily involved with Brendan and furthering to create our list of possible coaches; go through the process of starting to line up interviews, so on and so forth. It’s been a lot of fun and a good experience for me as a young guy working in hockey to go through this for the first time at the NHL level.
On coaching candidates and Mike Babcock’s availability:
I think that, obviously, Mike is a great coach. There’s some protocols that I’m not sure – I’ve basically just read about it and heard about it today; everybody asks you about it, but he’s a very good coach and that would be more up to Brendan and I’m sure at some point there will be a discussion had about whether there is even an interest in sitting down and talking about it and seeing where it goes from there. No real news there from my end today, unfortunately. I know that would make for better headlines, but I don’t have much on it today.
On what Arizona might do at the #3 pick and the Leafs at #4:
I was hoping you were going to tell me whom they were picking because that would’ve made it a lot easier on us. I think we’re in a very good spot. Everyone has probably been in that position throughout their existence as a team where they think they’re in a good spot. We know there’s going to be a very good player available there for us. For us it’s making the absolute best decision. If we get a very good player but pass up on a great player and miss, that’s not good for us and that’s not good enough for us as a management group. There is a litany of players that are in that mix for us there. You mentioned Hanifin, you have Dylan Strome, you have Mitch Marner, Mathew Barzal, Mikko Rantanen, Ivan Provorov, Lawson Crouse; there’s a lot of players that are under consideration for us at that point and a lot of work for us to do. In our case – I’ve said a lot recently – we’re not in a position to get picky by position and so on and so forth; we have to pick the absolute best player that’s going to have the greatest impact with the Maple Leafs. That’s the process we’re immersed deeply in now. Mark Hunter leading the charge with Dave Morrison, and Mark and I working closely together to try to make sure we’re getting this absolutely right. I think, even more importantly – make a good pick because we have to at fourth overall – but if we’re going to start separating ourselves and growing as an organization; that second pick in the first round I’m really focused on in terms of trying to predict what is happening in front of us and what players are going to be there. We have to make a great selection with that second pick and really begin to stockpile some very good young players in our organization.
On the final scouting list:
I think it’s dangerous at this point to move it too much around and to put too much focus on some of the guys that are still playing. We always have to take into account the full season’s work of each player and not try to get too enamoured with the very last game that we saw them in. Of course, with some of these guys still playing, it’s a great experience to see them playing against the absolute best teams from other leagues. Now you’ve got Connor McDavid and you’ve got Dylan Strome and they’re playing Oshawa, who has got Mitchell Vande Sompel and you’ve got Nick Merkley and Ivan Provorov head to head out West, which is another great opportunity for us as well. You don’t want to slag the player too much if they struggle in this environment, but you have to be watching and keeping it in mind and keying in on adding to our viewings and our book on the player. But for us it’s always going to evolve because we’ve got the combine still coming up, we’ve got the interviews with the players, and bringing in character references and what we gain from the interviews from them, and really trying to figure out more about them as people and whether they’re going to be a fit for us personally with where we’re going with our program with the Maple Leafs.
On BPA versus positional need:
I think, at this point, we aren’t particularly good enough to be going out and drafting for need and acquiring a player that might be not as good as somebody else because they might play wing or might play defence. Our focus has exclusively been on picking the player that we believe can have the most impact on the Maple Leafs. In a perfect world, and I agree, it’s a center that’s outstanding, and a lot of these players are centers that we’re talking about, the forwards that are in consideration. Then you’ve got the defencemen. It depends on the philosophy, right? You got the teams that are still in action that are still playing; they’ve got excellent centers, they’ve got excellent wingers, excellent defencemen and goaltenders that have shown the ability to win and play well throughout. We need to add all of those things in right now. We’ve got some good pieces there, but we can’t yet be picky and draft a player with less talent because it might fit a conventional need. We really need to continue to focus on adding just the most talent we can and then we can adapt hopefully as we go along if we do find a need that’s glaring.
On Sheldon Keefe potentially joining the Leafs:
I think I’ve gotten to know Sheldon very well over working with him for the year and a half there in Sault Ste. Marie and knowing him for those two seasons. It’s not a surprise to me that it gets brought up. When anyone has worked with anyone before it’s always convenient to say, “well hey, he might end up in Toronto with the Leafs because he worked with me and I now work here.” We haven’t had any discussions with Sheldon at this point, but it’s not surprising at all to hear that he’s in consideration for other teams and I’ve heard from other teams asking questions about him. He’s come a long way in every regard and has some very, very good potential as a coach. He’s a very young guy that’s had a lot of success coaching, so I’m very happy for him and look forward to seeing what happens next with Sheldon, whether he’s back in Sault Ste. Marie hopefully continuing to push my beloved Greyhounds further along.