The Leafs New GM……..

Yesterday I wrote this story in which I suggested the Leafs should make Peter Horachek their permanent coach.  Because I have no shame, and the lengths I will go to to promote myself and my work shows little to no understanding of the boundaries of propriety or good taste, I tweeted my article to Messieurs Shanahan et Dubas.

Now, part of the reason I promote myself so aggressively is that I have a lot of children and when the phone rings with that special long-distance ring, I don’t answer it because it is – 100% of the time – just some immoral credit collector.  But yesterday, when the phone rang for the fourth time in succession, I was forced into action and who was on the other line but Carlos Santana Jr – the unfortunately named assistant to the assistant to Mr. Shanahan’s assistant.

He wanted to know: Would I be willing to write up a post about what I’d do if I was the Leafs new GM – as a sort of job interview.  He didn’t want to get my hopes up, but if I could write an interesting enough piece, he said, then the management crew might be willing to go with a complete  unknown since the incestuous nature of NHL front-office hirings has created an inflexible system of copy-catting and recycled ideas.

In short: the Leafs think a brilliant outsider might just be what the franchise needs to kick-start it into the post six-team era of the NHL.


Philosophy: In order to be successful in the NHL you have to manage your cap – so I will employ a strategy that focuses on finding under-valued players and moving out players who’s reputations exceed their contributions.

I will always attempt to have a young team – rebuilding will never be necessary under my reign because we are going do it once – the right way – and then have a sustainable system that focuses on the value of ECL contracts and takes advantage of the fact that NHL teams and scouts over-rate experience and underrate youth.

The focus on everything in our system will be on value and relative value. We won’t even refer to players by name – lest we succumb to the kind of thinking that over-values reputation.

My reign will not be beholden to conventional thought: We’ll dress small players, we will value skill and skating over everything (including character and compete level) and we dress a roster devoid of role players, specialists, grinders, enforcers and defensive defensemen. 

So what is the “Right Way” to rebuild? Simple: hoard value contacts and youth, and move out high priced talent so that you have a team who’s mostly in their early to mid twenties and keep the prospect cupboard stocked.

(Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)
(Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

Who to Keep: Of the players on the current roster, the one’s you keep are quite obvious: Kessel,Bernier, Gardiner, Kadri, Nylander and Rielly.  I am also open to keeping Percy, Panik and Holland, although unlike my six man core, they are not untouchable.

I want to trade Phaneuf and JVR because they will bring in a lot of high value and I want to move everyone else for picks, prospects and youth.  The team under my supervision will not be concerned with winning in the immediate future.

Creativity: A lot of people will think the Leafs are stuck with some of their worse contracts – but I will make moving out David Clarkson and Stephane Robidas a priority and I will be willing to take  less value on a current roster player in exchange for moving out DC and SR.  I would also consider paying someone to take him.

Statement of Intent: I like to be upfront, honest and forthright in all my dealings with the public. To this end I will state openly on my first day on the job that Nazem Kadri is an NHL  #1 centre and Morgan Rielly is an NHL #1 D and that if Horachek agrees to play them as such going forward (unless and until someone not currently on the roster usurps them) I have a five-year contract with his name on it.

Trade Bait
Jake Gardiner is criminally underrated( rts)


Now for the fun part: what kind of trades will I make?  Good ones, I hope.  But here’s the dilemma: I don’t know what other teams are willing to part with and the nature of such proposals is that they are destined to be one-sided in my team’s favor and usually fail to factor in such things as contracts and the salary cap.

I will try to do my best.

My first move would be to get rid of Tyler Bozak so that the coach has no choice but to play Kadri. If I can get a second round pick for him, I am stoked, if it means not taking back any money. Probably I’ll just be happy with a B prospect and his contract gone.

My second move would be to rid the team of it’s depth pieces so that we can get a look at who’s in the system and how they’d do in the Show and to lose more and draft higher.

Santorelli, Booth, Winnik, Lupul, Komarov, Franson, Polak, Reimer and Holzer would all be moved out as quickly as possible for picks and prospects.

For these players I am not looking to hit home-runs, but mostly to rid the team of their salaries.  Due to pending free agency, high contracts and risk of injury, I am not looking to get a lot back for these players.

Joffrey Lupul
The Maple Leafs are happy to have Joffrey Lupul back in the lineup (John E. Sokolowski-US PRESSWIRE)


Other that picks and prospects, the only move I have in  mind with these guys is to trade Lupul to Tampa for Nikita Nesterov, assuming we could make the cap work.

I would also offer any of the rest of these guys to  Carolina for Ron Hainsey, who I think is very underrated and who will be for my team what the Leafs hoped Robidas would be: a leader and mentor to our young players. The difference being he can and will contribute.

My third move would be to discuss trading Phaneuf. I would target Dallas in this transaction because I know they need defense and want to make the playoffs desperately. They also have a over $5 million in cap-space and a ton more coming after this season.

I would offer them Phaneuf and Robidas in exchange for Julias Honka (an offensive defenseman picked in the first round last year) and a first round pick that is lottery protected.  I will also be willing to take their choice of Shawn Horcoff or Erik Cole in order to make the cap work. Both players are UFA after this season.

My fourth move would be to try and trade JVR to the Wild in exchange for Nino Niederreiter and Jared Spurgeon.  This trade matches up nicely with the salary cap and given JVR’s perceived value, I think they’d accept it.

My Fifth Move would be to sit back and take stock, scour the league for value FAs and guys teams are not utilizing properly (Tampa’s Connolly jumps to mind here).

The Rebuild is in Warp Speed

After a series of five + moves my team going forward would look something like this:

Forwards:   Kadri, Neiderreiter, Kessel, Nylander, Panik, Holland some fill ins. Obviously this is where the work will need to be done going forward, but we already possess four potential superstars.

Defense: Rielly, Spurgeon, Gardiner, Nesterov, Honka and Hainsey would be my defense and I think it’d be close to tops in the NHL. We’d kill teams with our passing and speed and dominate possession.

Goalie: Jonathan Bernier, Rando Backupski – a solid tandem and if they come under $6/year then we’re getting a bargain.

Jared Spurgeon (Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)
Jared Spurgeon is a guy the Leafs should target (Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)


As you can see, with a little creativity, the Leafs can pick high this year and move forward on a rebuild in very quick fashion, perhaps, if that defense comes to fruition, as early as next year. Even if I was stuck with Clarkson’s contract, this group would be much cheaper going forward and with a little restraint next July first, we’d be in great shape going forward.

I mean, clearly I was being facetious at the start of the piece, but is this plan – even if it blew up in my face completely – really any worse than anything we’ve seen from MLSE for the last twelve or so years?

You know that it isn’t.

I say, give me the job.



11 thoughts on “The Leafs New GM……..”

  1. Provocative, sure.. but you’re awry on a few things. 1. Kadri isnt a first line center, he doesn’t have the FO% prowess yet required. 2. Bernier isnt an out and out #1 yet. He’s good, sure. But he doesnt even compare to the top netminders in the league. Hes just a bit better than average. 3. One of the biggest things with the Leafs is that I dont think there needs to be THAT many moves. Phaneuf has to go, Clarkson too. But I’d stop there for the time-being. See how bringing in a few guys changes the chemistry, then re-evaluate.

  2. Couldn’t finish reading after everything was regurgitated crap everyone else has been saying. It’s easier said than done to have a “young team” who can also win the cup. You don’t get every pick you want and sometimes your picks turn out to be Duds. Address the scouting issues.

    As soon as any inexpensive player has a decent season you will look like a genius, granted, however because it’s Toronto every agent will demand that you over-pay because there are no underrated players in Toronto, or Montreal for that matter. Every player is on every radar.

    How will you address economics of attracting players when the Canadian Dollar is in decline?


  3. I think that would work but instead of JVR I would move Kessel he is lazy only plays to his ability 20% of the time and is more of a hinderance to the team then an assest and would bring back more picks in return

  4. I stopped reading as soon as I saw the first tweet about keeping Horachek permanently. I don’t know if you realized, but we are on a 10-game losing streak. The (former) highest-scoring team in the NHL now struggles to score at all! Hire Bylsma, Babcock, gosh…as much as I hate Torts, hire him!!!!!

    Anyone but Horriblechek…

  5. Phil Kessel has to be the first one to go. Sure he scores goals but his goals are not usually game changers. You need goal scorers who can change the outcome of a game and make the other team players heartbroken. Not because a goal is scored, it always merit value to total outcome of the game. You need a player who is feared by other team’s defense in that every time he comes into the game, he will make the other team change their style of play every time that he is on the ice. You don’t need a player who scores thirty plus goals every year but they are meaningless to outcome of the game. Sometimes a player makes contributions in every aspect of the game. For 8 million a year I am sure we can get 2 or 3 young players with potential to develop into that kind of player. In Phil’s case he is great goal scorer but he is in most games ineffective in the general play of the game. To Phil’s defense the team must play the game to give him every opportunity to score if not he will always be an albatross to any team he plays with. Teams of today are solid on all four lines. They keep checking and don’t let you come out of your zone. If they ever catch you napping or making turnovers they make you pay dearly by scoring. The Leafs need that type of team to contend with the better teams. They are almost there. The pieces are there but you cant have players like Kessel in there lineup. He will also be a bad example for character of team. I wish we had a Gary Roberts to do their fitness and build fearless character among the younger up and coming players on the Leafs squad. Phil Kessel is great if given the opportunity to score. Either the Leafs change their style of play to suit Phil or he changes his game and style to suit them. Which will it be?

  6. James Tanner, why don’t you guys in the media go after the real problem with the Leafs? The only owner who made a winner out of this team was Steve Stavros. Before him Harold Ballard, after him the OTPF, now Bell/Rogers. The fat cats don’t care so long as the seats are filled. They’ve been careless at hiring people who know how to build a winner through the draft and good trading. Look at the who they hired; JFJ, then Burke and Nonis…Now were onto Liewicke and Shanahan…two more guys with no experience at building a winner. Compare the Leafs to smaller market teams where it’s vital to have the right people running the organization or they don’t sell tickets. Those teams have to survive on a shoe string whereas MLSE has too much money to give a proper damn.

  7. “I would offer them Phaneuf and Robidas in exchange for Julias Honka (an offensive defenseman picked in the first round last year) and a first round pick that is lottery protected. “…….and you be laughed out of town

    “Rielly, Spurgeon, Gardiner, Nesterov, Honka and Hainsey would be my defense and I think it’d be close to tops in the NHL”….your keyboard is broken…it typed NHL when you meant AHL

  8. This guy is just another delusional leaf fan. Some of the guy’s you are wanting to trade for,why would the other teams trade away their top prospects or good young players for guy’s that have proven that they are crap.

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