With the 2023-24 NHL season just around the corner, now is a good time to review the Toronto Maple Leafs’ offseason moves. From hiring a new general manager (GM) to a change in the team’s identity, here’s a look back at what transpired over the summer and how it will affect the team moving forward.
Treliving in for Dubas
After being eliminated by the Florida Panthers in the second round of the 2023 Playoffs, there was a lot of drama surrounding GM Kyle Dubas, which ultimately ended in his being let go. There were conflicting stories about his departure, and we may never know what happened. What we do know is that Dubas is now the GM of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan hired Brad Treliving to take over as GM, which had many fans wondering what the team would look like entering the season. He has been known to build teams with a strong blue line to support the forwards, as he did with the Calgary Flames, and many wondered if he would trade one or two of the core four to rebuild the back end. This had many fans excited to see what changes would be made. Leafs Nation knew that Treliving had a different vision for his team than Dubas did, so the rumours started to fly as he settled into his new role.
Treliving Brings in Snot
On July 1, 2023, Treliving got to work. He started by signing one of the NHL’s toughest players, Ryan Reaves; the Maple Leafs have had a few players who can fight over the last few seasons, like Wayne Simmonds and Kyle Clifford, but they are not on the same level as Reaves. Reaves is also known to be a great locker room presence, and it was clear that Treliving wanted to change the team’s culture as fast as possible.
July 1 came to a close with the additional signing of John Klingberg to help the team offensively on the back end, an area that was lacking last season. By July 2, Leafs Nation got the passion back. Treliving signed both Tyler Bertuzzi and Max Domi to one-year deals to help the top six by providing the harder-to-play-against style that was also lacking last season. Not only was signing Bertuzzi surreal for many fans because of the skill set he will bring to the top line but also signing the son of one of the most beloved tough guys in franchise history, Tie Domi, had fans over the moon.
Maple Leafs Stick With Core Four
Treliving had already won over a ton of hearts by addressing an area that desperately needed to be addressed. But when Auston Matthews and the Maple Leafs announced his contract extension, he became a fan favourite. Matthews signed a four-year, $53 million extension that carries an average annual value (AAV) of $13.25 million, which essentially extends the Maple Leafs’ Cup window for another five seasons. The last shoe to drop to make this offseason one of the best offseasons the team has had in years will be a William Nylander extension, but that seems unlikely before the start of training camp.
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However, Treliving seems to have given his full support to the Maple Leafs’ core of Matthews, Nylander, Mitch Marner, and John Tavares. But for how long? If the team is struggling by Christmas, will he trade Nylander? Or would he consider moving Marner next offseason rather than extending him? We don’t know, but, for now, he is sticking with his core four to lead the team to the Stanley Cup.
Maple Leafs 2023-24 Expectations
There were a lot of changes to the Maple Leafs this offseason. Yes, their core stayed the same, as did their blue line for the most part. The team did see a lot of players leave the organization, and a handful of new faces joined the club, including the most important piece of this puzzle, their new GM, Treliving. He had a vision, and he made it work.
But there is still work to do and that will probably take place before the 2023 NHL trade deadline to help the team down the stretch and into the 2024 Playoffs. Like every season and every contending team, the goal is to win the Stanley Cup, but this 2023–24 version of the Maple Leafs may have the best chance to do it.
They have made the necessary changes to make the roster more well-rounded, so the expectations shouldn’t just be the Stanley Cup. I expect the team to win the Atlantic Division, the Prince of Wales (Eastern Conference Finalist), and compete for the Presidents’ Trophy. There will be ups and downs, but the Maple Leafs have a team that can handle it, and at the 2024 trade deadline, Treliving will address the areas of need, which could be on the blue line. He has proven to Leafs Nation that he sees what many have seen for years and will take the steps needed to improve the club – the expectations for the 2023–24 Maple Leafs are extremely high.
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It has been one of the most entertaining offseasons that fans have seen in years. It all started with Dubas and the Maple Leafs falling out and him leaving. Who knows what the team would look like if he were still at the helm? The good thing is, we’ll never need to know because the team now has Treliving, who did an excellent job addressing areas of need in his first offseason with the team.