Kyle Dubas, Toronto Maple Leafs GM
Photo: Canadian Press

Pierre LeBrun and Elliotte Friedman discuss Kyle Dubas’ potential approach to the trade deadline in today’s Leafs Links.

LeBrun: “I think the Leafs will be out of the gates ahead of the other NHL teams ahead of the deadline” (TSN1050)

On TSN Overdrive, Pierre LeBrun speculated that Kyle Dubs and the Leafs will get out ahead of some of the other movers and shakers at the NHL trade deadline.

Everyone is saying it is difficult right now. You’ve got half the league in LTIR. Because of the flat cap, I believe this is the biggest number of teams we have had in LTIR in the cap era. You are having to trade apples for apples.

… I think if the Leafs do go out and get a top-nine forward, I predict they will do it ahead of the deadline as much as possible. It is Kyle Dubas’ trademark even pre-pandemic. The Muzzin deal was in January. He likes to go ahead of time anyway.

If they can get it done, I think the Leafs will be out of the gates ahead of the other NHL teams potentially ahead of the deadline.

… The integration element is huge. Teams often say, even outside of the pandemic, that with acquisitions at the deadline, there is a 50-50 chance the addition meshes. Now throw in the quarantine. And how many practices are teams getting between the deadline and the first round of the playoffs in May? I bet it is three or four practices a month max.

LeBrun on the perception of the Canadian division around the league:

The Leafs are the one Canadian teams that has stayed away from the drama that we are getting all over this division. I was talking to an executive yesterday who said, “We were just chuckling the other day. There is something going on every day. Really, even the Leafs with all of the Nylander stuff, what is going on up there?” People are enjoying the spectacle of it.

Friedman: “Leafs will try to find best forward who fits” regardless of C vs. W (SN590)

On Leafs Hour, Elliotte Friedman provided his sense of whether the Leafs would prefer to add a center or a winger ahead of the trade deadline.

I think they are going to try to add something. I thought they were going to look for a top-six winger. Is there a chance they see Kerfoot as that person?

This year is a screwed-up year for a lot of different reasons, but it is generally a lot easier to acquire wingers than centers. Centers are hard to get.

I could see them trying to go out and say, “We are going to try to find the best forward we can who fits, and then try to figure out what we got here.”

Dreger: Matthews wrist injury “not structural… it is soreness” (TSN1050)

On Insider Trading, Darren Dreger provided the latest word on the Auston Matthews wrist injury and how big of an issue it might or might not be.

It is not structural. It is more soreness. It is thought to be minor. It is something that he has been dealing with and recently aggravated. You can see that the Maple Leafs made adjustments to allow Auston Matthews to avoid the one-timer in the series versus the Flames. They made adjustment to their PP structure.

I don’t think we should sound alarm bells. The expectation is that he will be able to play through it and will play against the Oilers on Saturday.

Bourne: “Keefe likes to try things, and when he decides they are good, he will move on” (SN590)

On Lead Off and Writers Bloc, Justin Bourne discussed the crazy finish against the Flames, how Keefe managed the situation with Nylander, and how Keefe has dealt with the team’s injuries.

Bourne on the end of the game vs. Calgary and Nylander’s role in the goal against and goals for:

If the Leafs are still playing the same system as when I was there, Nylander would be the safety valve to help down low. Babs called it steel balls. With the puck below the goal line, they wanted all five guys real low. Nylander would have been asked to come down and help, but it’s kind of between coverages. Holl leaves at the last second.

You can see how he can take the blame. If that is John Tortorella, Nylander doesn’t see another shift and the Leafs don’t get a point let alone two. It was a good example of Keefe saying, “I didn’t love his play here, but we need a goal and he gives us the best chance of getting a goal.” I thought that was a smart coaching decision.

Bourne on how fine the margins were with the Flames missing the empty net:

Kyle Dubas’ favourite line when I worked for him was: “There is no alternate timeline.” There is no sequence of events where it didn’t happen. It did. Nylander scored the goals. There is no sense in talking about any other timeline.

Bourne on how the Leafs have dealt with the injuries:

One of my favourite Sheldon Keefe things — and hockey is so homogenous generally — and one that he does differently is play different lines, power-play units, and configurations, and when he decides that they are good, he will move on. He will say, “Okay, I know I’ve got that. That’s something I can turn to when I need it. What else can I find?”

He tries to figure out what he’s got. Being in first and going through 19 forwards this year, it allows him to make a bunch of different recipes to figure out what he has. Come playoffs, when your one recipe doesn’t work, you turn to the cupboard to see what else you’ve got there.

This has been an opportunity for him to explore, and that is going to help them down the road.