Toronto Maple Leafs general manager (GM) Kyle Dubas will be going for it this season. The 2022-23 campaign is going to be one of the most entertaining years in recent memory in Toronto and Leafs Nation should expect to see the organization pushing all their chips into the middle of the table.
The roster heading into training camp has some holes and is far from perfect. There are two giant question marks in net with Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov, the blue line appears a little crowded and there are also a few players battling it out for depth spots up front. The internal competition will be fun to watch once training camp opens, however, the real fun is going to be watching Dubas go to work in-season and try and upgrade his team.
Maple Leafs Will Go After Some Big Names
The ‘minor’ tinkering came this past offseason and I’m fully expecting to see the Maple Leafs make a blockbuster move during the 2022-23 season. There are a number of players who have been linked to the team in the past and once the start of this season plays out, the list will grow.
Right now, it’s all Patrick Kane chatter, however, that’s a bit of a pipe dream considering his cap hit, acquisition cost and the fact he holds a full no-movement clause. If I had to guess, Kane will end up going to the New York Rangers, but a lot can change between now and the 2023 Trade Deadline.
As for what exactly Dubas may have in mind for his Maple Leafs, here are some interesting names to keep in mind.
Timo Meier, San Jose Sharks
The price would be massive, but regardless, Timo Meier is a forward to circle as the San Jose Sharks may completely tear it down and if they do, Dubas should be waiting by the shark tank with open arms. He is a dynamic forward who could push Michael Bunting off the first line and give Toronto an elite trio with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner.
Meier is a shifty offensive talent who could take a team over the hump. Last season, the 26-year-old versatile winger recorded 76 points in 77 games. If Sharks GM Mike Grier is willing to listen, the Maple Leafs should be heavily involved as his game would be an ideal type of acquisition for their forward group. He’s hard to play against, is a point-a-game player and has the abilities to shine on either of Toronto’s top lines. It’s all going to come down to the Sharks’ direction and if things continue to go south for the franchise, Dubas should be ready to jump in the waters.
J.T Miller, Vancouver Canucks
Vancouver Canucks forward J.T Miller has been linked to trade rumors for what feels like the last two seasons, but as a pending unrestricted free agent without any clarity on a contract extension, the chatter isn’t going to slow down anytime soon.
No bones about it, Miller would be an ideal trade candidate for the Maple Leafs as he is exactly what the doctor ordered. He competes, he’s tough to play against, loves to battle, and is the type of player that pulls his teammates into the fight. All of these attributes would be a fantastic complement for John Tavares and William Nylander, forming what could be the best second line in the league.
If a contract extension isn’t signed by the trade deadline, expect to see Canucks management listen to offers for Miller. With a cap hit of only $5.25 million in 2022-23, the bidding war will be intense. Dubas has the prospects and draft capital to pull it off, it’s all going to come down to whether or not he is willing to pay the price.
Yanni Gourde, Seattle Kraken
Kraken GM Ron Francis was aggressive this summer trying to upgrade his roster as Seattle enters their second season in the league. Year one didn’t go as planned and if season two is much of the same, the Maple Leafs should show trade interest in Kraken forward Yanni Gourde.
Gourde has a Stanley Cup pedigree and knows what it takes to win. He was one of Seattle’s best players last season, recording 48 points in 71 games and is signed through the 2024-25 season at $5.1 million per season. He submitted a 22-team trade list of who he would approve a deal to and considering the Maple Leafs’ talented roster, it’s likely they make the cut. Without a contract for next season, Dubas will need to be calculated and aggressive and should have Gourde on his list of potential targets.
As it’s early and we don’t have a sense of sellers, it’s difficult to pinpoint who will be available. Kane, Miller, Meier and Gourde are players to keep an eye on, and some other honorary mentions include Philadelphia Flyers forward Travis Konecny, New Jersey Devils forward Miles Wood, and Chicago Blackhawks forward Max Domi. Toronto should also have their eye on some defensemen, however, that’s a story for another day.
Leafs Nation’s patience is running thin, and they’re ready to experience at least the Second Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Maple Leafs are entering a very fragile state as not only does their GM need a new deal, but the contracts of some of their biggest stars are starting to run out as well. If they don’t win this season, there will be massive changes. As a result, look for them to be one of the most active teams on the trade market in 2022-23 and it’s likely going to be a blockbuster deal.
Shane’s been a part of The Hockey Writers team since 2020, covering the Toronto Maple Leafs & Pittsburgh Penguins. A constant contributor, his versatile perspective on game results and everything off the ice produces diverse content. You can also find him on the Maple Leafs Lounge podcast with Peter Baracchini and Alex Hobson. Follow along on Twitter @ShugMcSween