Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Lilley, Duszak, Nylander & More

In this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs News & Rumors, I’ll share news about some of the team’s recent movements – including one of the Maple Leafs’ scouting staff moving to another location. I’ll report that Joseph Duszak re-signed with the organization.

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Third, I’ll speculate what the offseason signings of coaches might mean for the team’s player development. I’ll report that William Nylander was left off the Swedish Olympic Team’s initial training camp. Finally, I’ll suggest addition moves the organization might still make this offseason.

Item One: Maple Leafs Director of Amateur Scouting John Lilley Move to Rangers

I’m used to Maple Leafs’ general manager Kyle Dubas hiring the best coaches and scouts to the team, but I’m not that used to seeing someone move. This offseason the team lost Dave Hakstol, who moved to become the new Seattle Kraken head coach. Then, just yesterday, it was announced that the Maple Leafs lost Leafs Director of Amateur Scouting John Lilley to the New York Rangers. There he was named Director of Player Personnel and Director of Amateur Scouting.

Lilley had been the Director of Amateur Scouting since Dubas took over as general manager in 2018. He’s also been a long-time Maple Leafs’ employee ( having been with the team since 2006). His move is a promotion where he will assume a dual role under new Rangers President and general manager Chris Drury.

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Item Two: Maple Leafs Doubling Down on Player Development

In some other moves that might have flown under the radar, the Maple Leafs seem (to me) to be focusing on player development with their recent hires. Not long ago, the organization inked last season’s AHL coach of the year Spencer Carbery to become an assistant coach. He’ll take a spot on the Maple Leafs’ bench. The 39-year-old Carbery had previously head coach of the AHL’s Hershey Bears. 

The team also hired Dean Chynoweth as an assistant coach. The 52-year-old Chynoweth replaces former assistant coach Hakstol, who’s now leading the Kraken. Finally, the Maple Leafs hired well-known USHL general manager Ryan Hardy to become the franchise’s new Senior Director of Minor League Operations. That move upgrades the front office. 

If I were a betting man, I’d wager that these moves augur the possibility that more time will be spent working with the organization’s prospects. During all the moves this offseason, the Maple Leafs still kept all their meaningful picks and prospects – except Filip Hallander. They have retained next season’s first and second-round picks. Those players include top prospects Rodion Amirov,  Nick Robertson, Timothy Liljegren, Topi Niemela, and Roni Hirvonen. 

Something’s up, but I’m not yet what it might be.

Item Three: Joey Duszak Re-signs with the Maple Leafs’ Organization

Yesterday, it was announced that Joseph Duszak had re-signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Maple Leafs.

The 24-year-old Duszak spent the past two seasons with the Toronto Marlies, where he scored 12 points in 25 games last season and 18 points in 23 games in 2019-20. The 24-year-old defenseman will probably stay with the Marlies for the entire 2021-22 season. 

Item Four: William Nylander Left off Team Sweden’s Call for 2022 Olympic Games

Team Sweden is scheduled to  hold its preliminary camp next week in Stockholm to choose its team for the 2022 Olympics. There were 27 players invited, with one notable exception. William Nylander was not among the invitees

Toronto Maple Leafs William Nylander
Toronto Maple Leafs William Nylander (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)

That seems odd on the face of it because Nylander led all scorers at the 2019 World Championships with 18 points in eight games. This past season with the Maple Lefs, he scored 17 goals and 25 assists (for 42 points) in 51 games and was the Maple Leafs’ highest scorer during the playoffs with five goals. 

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As reported, it doesn’t mean he won’t make Sweden’s Olympic team, but it is interesting for sure.

What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?

I’m a bit curious about whether the Maple Leafs might make another move on defense during the offseason – either a sign or a trade. Are there still questions to be answered and the lack of a decision about Morgan Rielly might be major. I thought the team might either work to re-sign him for next season or move him before his contract expires. At some point, it’s hard to give up players for little return if they head into the offseason on an expired contract. 

William Nylander, Morgan Reilly
Toronto Maple Leafs Morgan Rielly celebrates with teammate William Nylander. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Hans Deryk)

Perhaps Dubas is finished wheeling and dealing; perhaps not. The other notable free agent (for Toronto) that remains floating around is Alex Galchenyuk. What happens to him? I heard Dubas say re-signing him was something he wanted the organization to do, but nothing’s happened the last time I heard. 

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I’m thinking there might be more action coming during the next little while.