James van Riemsdyk of the Toronto Maple Leafs
TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 15: James van Riemsdyk #25 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates after scoring against the Nashville Predators during the first period at the Air Canada Centre on November 15, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)

The John Tavares sweepstakes, the Big 3 negotiations, Kyle Dubas’ approach to the upcoming draft, and more in the links.

Leafs Links

McKenzie: Matthews contract length will be curious to watch (TSN1050)
Bob McKenzie joined Scotty Mac to discuss the Leafs’ interest in John Tavares, contract negotiations with The Big 3, and much more.

I should probably hesitate to say this, because it’ll be such a Toronto thing to say, but if John Tavares gets to free agency…. and I don’t know if he will; the most recent reports, and Dregs got the ball rolling on it last week, were that his focal point is on negotiations with the Islanders right now, so he may do that in short order. We don’t know. We’re waiting to see on that. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Leafs put together a proposal or tried to make something happen and get creative. I’m not saying they get him and I’m not saying it is their Plan A. I’m just saying that I don’t think they’d let that opportunity slide by without getting involved. Your next question is – how do you make it work with Matthews? How do you make it work with Nylander? How do you make it work with Marner? The short answer is I don’t know. But I’ve been led to believe that the Leafs have been putting together something in the way of something that can be presented to Tavares if he gets to free agency, and it’s a big if.

It comes back to logistics. At face value, if Tavares signs with the Islanders, he’ll get eight years. If he goes anywhere else, he’s going to get seven years at such a big number that you’d think it would be prohibitive for the Leafs. That may well be the case. But Dubas is an interesting guy and I’d imagine that the Leafs would do everything to see if they could come up with a creative way to make it attractive to both sides. But there is going to be no shortage of teams doing that, so I’m not suggesting for a moment that Tavares’ predisposition is to go to Toronto at all, and I’m not suggesting that the only thing the Leafs are planning right now is to get John Tavares, because they’re not planning that as the focal point of everything that they do. I just think that if the opportunity were there, they’d be one of the 10 or 12 teams in there trying to find a way to make it happen. Not sure if it could, but I think they’d try.

Dreger: I think it’s unlikely the Maple Leafs re-sign Tyler Bozak (TSN1050)
Darren Dreger discussed the likelihood of Tyler Bozak and JVR returning on Landsberg in the Morning.

On the probability that Bozak could be back in Toronto next season:

I think it’s unlikely. There is a real good market, as there should be, for Tyler Bozak. It’s not that Mike Babcock and the Toronto Maple Leafs don’t see value in Tyler Bozak. You just have to look at some of the other issues they’re facing, and also the reality that the Toronto Maple Leafs are trending in a different direction. Tyler Bozak — on a more established team, perhaps — is going to be highly sought after. The market is always strong on good centers, but I don’t see the fit with the Toronto Maple Leafs. I think those days are gone.

On whether there have been any negotiations with the pending UFAs:

I think that they actually engaged with Leo Komarov pretty early… soon after the World Hockey Championships. You’re talking a couple of weeks back. A lot of that is just preliminary stuff and just investigating; having a basic conversation that says, “Alright, well, if we were to try to extend your contract or give you a new contract, what are you looking for?” When I look at JVR, I think that ship sailed a while ago – not because they don’t appreciate what he brings, it’s just he played so darn well and scored so many goals that he’s put himself in a place that, even with the cap going up, it’s real difficult for the Toronto Maple Leafs to get into that one.

Kyle Dubas on negotiating contracts with Matthews, Marner and Nylander: “I believe in extreme patience with these things… All three are obviously very good players and will be good Maple Leafs for a long time” (MLHS)
Kyle Dubas joined TSN Overdrive on Monday to discuss the draft and free agency, Sheldon Keefe’s future, and much more.

Sheldon is under contract. I think that we’re probably pretty fortunate that it’s now June 14th when the Marlies won and the season ended. Teams tend not to want to wait that long if they have openings. I think we were fortunate that way with Sheldon this year, but I think that it’s becoming more and more clear as every day and every season goes by with Sheldon that he is going to be an NHL head coach at some point.

LeBrun: Mike Babcock talks about his relationships with Kyle Dubas and Auston Matthews (The Athletic)
Mike Babcock sat down with Pierre Lebrun to discuss, among other things, his relationship with Auston Matthews. Babcock describes the rumoured rift as, “perceived” and not real.

“Kyle and I have a good relationship, we worked a lot together over the years here, he’s a good, good guy, a hard-working, honest guy,” said Babcock. “He’s got a lot of confidence, and he should have a lot of confidence. I look forward to it. I think change is a wonderful thing, you got to embrace it. It’s good for you, dig in.’’

Bourne: What should fans expect from Dubas and the Leafs at the 2018 draft? (The Athletic)
Justin Bourne expects the Keaton Middleton days to be over and suggests the Leafs will draft based on player intelligence and proven offensive track record, with Best Player Available far outweighing positional need.

Dubas not feeling pressure ahead of NHL Draft (Sportsnet)
“Positional need, to me, [means] zero,” said Dubas. “We want to find the best players and draft them and bring them in. We can sort that out through trades and waivers after. But the more good players we can get in the better.”

Tavares could become one of most desirable free agents in NHL history (NHL.com)
“If something doesn’t go well or he’s not winning, he takes it upon himself to turn it around,” said Matt Moulson. “That’s what you need in a great leader. He’s never pointing fingers. He’s always looking for ways for him to do more, to accomplish more. I think it’s something he’s carried with him through his lifetime. He’s got some of the best focus and drive and self-discipline and determination I’ve ever experienced with any athletes that I’ve known.”