Would Maple Leafs’ GM Kyle Dubas Trade a Top Prospect? YES!

If anyone was wondering whether the Toronto Maple Leafs’ general manager Kyle Dubas would trade a top prospect if the right deal presented itself at the trade deadline coming on April 12, 2021, the answer came without a blink of an eye. YES!

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Kyle Dubas spoke with the Maple Leafs media on Tuesday and answered questions regarding his thought process going into this year’s NHL Trade Deadline. Most insiders believed the team was looking to make a move and Dubas confirmed those reports. He then added even went further to suggest that a trade might be happening sooner than many thought.

Kyle Dubas Toronto Maple Leafs Draft
Kyle Dubas, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In the video below, the Maple Leafs GM discusses where the team’s focus lies with the trade deadline approaching. During the interview, Dubas made three key points: the team is most focused on (1) acquiring forward depth, (2) looking more for a rental player, and (3) that he’d be willing to trade a top prospect at the trade deadline.

At Trade Deadline, the Maple Leafs Would Look at Everything

When asked how he would improve his team at the upcoming April 12th deadline, Dubas noted that he thought the organization would “look at everything.” He added that he doesn’t, “go in transfixed on any one area in particular;” furthermore, he noted that he would make any move “that could improve our team at any position that’s possible.”  

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During the interview, he noted that over the summer the team tried to make its defence and goaltending “a little bit more stable,” but it came at a cost. He lost good forwards. He specifically noted that “we had to move out some forwards that were good forwards for us in order to add on the back end.” Obviously, he was speaking about Kasperi Kapanen, who was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and Andreas Johnsson, who was traded to the New Jersey Devils.

Kasperi Kapanen Toronto Maple Leafs
Kasperi Kapanen, when he was with the Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

He also noted that he isn’t “precluding anything at this point, but I’d say most of the conversations are focused on forwards right now.”

Would Dubas Trade a Top Prospect?

The interviewer then asked Dubas, “Would you consider trading a top prospect this year to improve your team.” Dubas’ answer was one-word. “Yes!”

Whether that is likely or not, who knows. However, it’s the only acceptable answer Dubas could give. He’s not going to limit his organization’s ability to make a move because he’s unwilling to consider any trade possibility. The organization is doing its job building up a stockpile of prospects, but no one in that group right now seems to have the talent of Auston Matthews or Mitch Marner. Thus, they’re tradable.

How Will the Salary Cap Influence the Team’s Choices at the Trade Deadline

Dubas then spent some time talking about how the era of COVID-19 impacted the Maple Leafs’ decision-making at the trade deadline. Dubas noted that, given the likelihood that “knowing that the cap is going to stay the same … anything that’s added that has an obligation” makes him blink.

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Then, Dubas dropped a surprise for me. He added that “usually you’d put a premium on getting a player that has future years,” which is what he noted that the team did with Jake Muzzin and Jack Campbell. However, he added that the trade deadline “is a little bit more complex this year, knowing that very likely it’s going to be at $81.5 million again.”

Jake Muzzin Toronto Maple Leafs
Jake Muzzin, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Dubas then noted that “anything that we take from next year’s allotment impacts a number of different things as you can well imagine.” The impact is that in the era of COVID-19 “it’s a rare time where probably a rental is a better fit.”

Dubas’ Bottom Line Is?

However, his bottom line is that “if it’s (a trade) something that we feel can improve our team long-term, we’ll find a way to make it work.”

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Interesting. What Dubas is saying is that he’s happy enough (currently) with his defense and goaltending. However, if the organization is going to make a trade it would likely be at forward. And this interview was prior to having Jimmy Vesey picked up from waivers by the Vancouver Canucks. In that light, his comments make even more sense.

In the meantime, Alex Galchenyuk has moved up from the Toronto Marlies to skate in Wednesday’s practice on the team’s second line with John Tavares and William Nylander. There are surprising things happening with the team’s roster, and those surprises might be far from over.

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