If you’re a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, Monday’s trade deadline was just another day of the week. General manager Kyle Dubas pulled the trigger on exactly zero significant trades.
You could argue that’s probably fine. Or you could take a stretch and argue that the acquisition of Calle Rosen for goalie Michael Hutchinson was a big deal. Maybe you’re more of a Matt Lorito fan, who joined the team in a trade with the New York Islanders.
But seriously, the biggest piece of news from Dubas’ camp on Monday was the signing of Jake Muzzin to a four-year contract extension. The deal has a no-move for next season, followed by a no-trade clause and one of those fancy 10-team no-trade clauses in subsequent years. They don’t have a requirement to protect him in the upcoming expansion draft, by the way.
Dubas was clear, however, when he addressed the media Monday.
“I’m not gonna come up and bulls— and tell you I have some magical solution,” he said. “It’s interesting. You can go back and look at different teams in different sports, and there are very few that right from the minute they acquire good talent through the draft just suddenly — boom — reach their potential and win championships and play at a consistent level every day.”
Toronto very much believes in its vision as a playoff team right now and that’s admirable, even if there’s little choice in the matter.
The Maple Leafs are, predictably, handcuffed by the cap situation. Getting rid of Tyson Barrie didn’t happen, probably because the asking price was too high and likely because the last few kicks at the can haven’t loaned the blueliner much by way of a luxurious stock price. The Vancouver Canucks were among the teams reportedly interested in the D-man.
The big picture analysis clearly states that the Maple Leafs didn’t do anything on deadline day to further their cause as a playoff team. Going through a tough, supposedly humiliating loss didn’t trigger a rush to market, which is probably a good thing. You don’t want a dude making deals because the club lost to a team with a Zamboni driver in net. Leave that to the armchair management types, the comment section warriors, the Twitter nuts.
But this is what it is: there’s no easy way out of this predicament. The Maple Leafs are set, ready or not, and it’s time to buckle up for whatever this ride has in store. There are plans for the future, like the acquisition of a right-shot defenceman, but they’ll have to wait.
And Dubas is nothing if not clear.
“Let’s speak bluntly about it,” said the GM Monday. “There’s a lot of people that are writing the obituary for the team and putting the team into the ground right now — and that’s fine, that’s fair. When you play that way, that’s what you get, especially in a market as passionate as this. The group is in a challenging spot. With that, comes the opportunity to do something special and something great.”
Photo credit: Toronto Maple Leafs/Twitter