Playing Devil’s Advocate for Kyle Dubas

In case you happened to miss my article this week, I have not been very kind to Kyle Dubas. In fact, I’ve been more than a little hard on him. I stand by my opinions, but I think it is important to not gloss over some of the better moves he has made as the Leafs GM. It is equally important to not blame him for cleaning up messes that he did not create. Nobody will ever take your criticisms against Dubas seriously if you constantly try to pin everything from WW2 to Global Warming on the young exec. I present to you my objectively sound, unabashed advocacy on behalf of Kyle Dubas.

Cody Ceci

So much head scratching goes on in regards to Ceci. He is really not good. Like I mean REALLY not good. One of the most popular questions from Leafs Nation is why did Dubas sign this guy? The answer is simple: He had no choice. Had Ceci taken the Leafs to arbitration, he would have gotten slightly lesser money, only for a 2 year deal instead of 1. Dubas made the right call in biting the bullet and signing Ceci to a slightly larger deal for one year. This way Ceci walks in the summer, and is off the books. And in case you forgot, Lou Lamoriello was the one who signed Zaitsev to the 7 year contract. I don’t blame Lou. Hey, it didn’t work out. But moving Z was a job Dubas inherited, not created. Hard to pin the outcome on him. Personally, I like the move. One year of dead weight is a helluva lot better than 4 or 5.

Jake Muzzin

Solid pickup. The Leafs best defenseman in my opinon. We gave up forward Carl Grundstrom, the rights to defenseman Sean Durzi and a first-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. Muzzin has been as advertised, if not better than. Meanwhile Grundstrom and Durzi arent in the NHL. The Kings used the 1st round pick acquired to draft Swedish defenseman Tobias Bjorfot, who is currently playing with Durzi and Grundstrom in the AHL. No matter how you slice it, it was a good move.

Draft Wizardy

There are some of his moves at NHL drafts that I have loved. First, having the foresight to draft Timothy Liljegren and Rasmus Sandin in the spots he got them. When you couple that with trading the pick which would eventually become Travis Konecny to the Flyers, in exchange for the picks that became Bracco and Dermott, its hard to not be impressed. Those are 3 defensemen who could end up permanent fixtures on the Leafs blueline for years to come. Add in all the later round gems Dubas has uncovered, and it is hard to not consider him as one of the best drafters in the NHL at the moment.

The Disposal of Patrick Marleau

I’ve always been impressed with the people who accurately predicted how problematic Marleau’s 3rd year of his contract would be. I was just a big-eyed fan boy happier than a pig in shit that the Leafs had finally signed someone of Marleau’s ilk, reputation, and pedigree. Dubas had to trade a 1st round pick in order to rid himself of Marleau. Now to be fair, he helped create this mess himself by overpaying RFA’s. So he doesn’t get a pass from culpability on this one. But he also did not sign Marleau either. In any event, he was wise enough to include the condition that the 1st round pick the Canes received was top-ten protected at least.

RFA Contracts of Kapanen and Johnsson

After arguably overpaying Matthews, Nylander, and Marner, Dubas hit a home run with the next tier of RFA’s. He managed to sign Andreas Johnsson and Kasperi Kapanen to team friendly contracts of 3 x 3.2AAV for Kap, and 4 x 3.4AAV for Mango. These both have tremendous upside, especially for a speedster like Kasperi Kapanen. I’d assume that Johnsson will likely be one of the first players traded off the roster, as his contract is very appetizing for teams in need of secondary scoring.

Personally, I do not like the Kadri trade for Kerfoot and Barrie. And I really do not like the contracts given to the Leafs trio of top RFAs. In addition, the Leafs are not currently built for the playoffs. In fact, I do not believe they are even tough enough to survive the regular season. But I think it is incredibly unfair to omit Dubas’ victories he has had while running the Leafs. If you ignore the wins, nobody takes your complaints about the losses seriously.

You can never go wrong by picking your battles.

Nicky Pizazz

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