The Toronto Maple Leafs opened up their 2021-22 training camp, and let’s just say there’s lots to talk about. While general manager Kyle Dubas made some big changes to the roster during the offseason, there wasn’t any “blockbuster” moves. From all accounts it sounds like that’s not happening anytime soon as you’ll see in the video clip below, Dubas laughed off the question at his media availability on Tuesday.
As Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic alluded to with his question, there was a ton of chatter this summer about the Maple Leafs making a blockbuster move, and Dubas has once again shut down those rumors. Will they surface again? Of course they will, it’s Toronto and the market is hot and bothered for rumors and speculation, especially when it comes to the likes of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares or William Nylander.
Rumors Surfaced the Arizona Coyotes Were on Maple Leafs Radar
During the summer I posted an article about some rumblings that surfaced regarding the Arizona Coyotes, more specifically then-forward Conor Garland and goaltender Darcy Kuemper. It seemed like at the time there was a big connection between the Maple Leafs and Coyotes and the two sides were matching up quite nicely when it came to making a move. The Coyotes wanted to get younger and accumulate more draft picks, meanwhile the Maple Leafs were looking for ways to improve their NHL roster.
While the trade rumor surely had legs as the two Coyotes players were eventually dealt to the Vancouver Canucks, my article never included the Maple Leafs dealing any of their foundational players. It was a move that would have involved Toronto including a package of draft picks and prospects and not touching anyone off their roster from the previous season.
Marner Has Become Leafs Nation’s Whipping Boy
It seems like Leafs Nation, and a number of media members alike, feel like the first-round playoff exit to the hands of the Montreal Canadiens was all Marner’s fault. This is one of the reasons LeBrun asked Dubas the question about trading Marner and like Dubas, I tend to laugh off people who think the Maple Leafs would actually trade the former first-round pick. Marner is an all-NHL type of player both on and off the ice, and he has the rare ability to take over games. He’s a player any coach in the league would love to have on their team and his game is essentially perfect for this era of NHL hockey.
While he likely wants back some of the over-the-glass penalties, and at times does need to shoot more, Marner is a core piece for the Maple Leafs and don’t expect to see him traded anytime soon. For some reason parts of Leafs Nation want to pigeon hole him into a category with the Aki Berg’s, Dion Phaneuf’s and Jake Gardiner’s of the world, but really they should be looking to Legends Row.
Marner has the potential to go down as an all-time great for the franchise and expect some big-time production from him in 2021-22. With the Olympics on his radar, Marner has all the motivation in the world to have a huge season, and all the noise about his game is just fueling his fire. Keep talking, he’ll keep producing.
Even if the Maple Leafs Struggle, Don’t Expect Major Changes In-Season
In my article from earlier this week, I highlighted a few players who are likely to be traded this season. Not one of the players I listed would be what I consider core players. Small tweaks to the depth and contract statuses influencing change. The media and fan pressure of making a major move is not going to tip Dubas’ hand one way or another. He doesn’t listen to the noise and only answers to it here and there because he has to. It’s his job to. If the Maple Leafs make any trades this season, including going “all-in” again at the trade deadline a la the Nick Foligno trade from last season, expect to see more prospects and draft picks moved and not anyone named Matthews, Marner, Nylander or Tavares.
The Maple Leafs enter the 2021-22 season with extremely high expectations. It’s a huge year for the organization to finally get over the hump, win a playoff series, and silence the doubters who keep saying the team can’t win with so much money tied up to their star players. Dubas and company will continue to evaluate, they will make adjustments on the fly to upgrade the roster, but they aren’t going to be making a blockbuster deal anytime soon that involves getting rid of some of their best players. Sorry Leafs Nation, but it’s time to find something else to talk about.
Shane covers any and everything to do with the Toronto Maple Leafs & Pittsburgh Penguins. A constant contributor to the THW family, his passion and unique perspective on the game results in some diverse content. Certainly versatile, you can also find him contributing at NHLTradeRumors.me, BaseballRumors.me & BBallRumors.com. Follow along on Twitter @ShugMcSween