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The Toronto Maple Leafs organization was upended with the choice to not bring back GM Kyle Dubas after five years. The reasons and events leading up to Team President Brendan Shanahan’s decision on Friday will be debated over the coming weeks and months, but the club’s ownership and Shanahan have to quickly pivot and find a new general manager up to the challenge of getting the Leafs to the next step and in short order.
On the Dubas page, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports that the Leafs have given the Pittsburgh Penguins permission to talk to him about their vacant management positions, but that the Pens were far along in their search with names like Carolina’s Eric Tulsky and Buffalo’s Jason Karmanos in the mix.
As for Toronto, some names that have been mentioned are longshots based on the reported parameters (experience, “bite”, and someone not afraid to make tough decisions) that Friedman mentioned on Saturday MLSE is looking for.
Former Leafs assistant GM Mark Hunter is familiar with the organization and their players but has no experience as an NHL GM and his record as a talent evaluator in Toronto is questionable.
Lack of managerial experience would go the same for names like former LA Kings Asst GM Michael Futa or Kris Draper (currently an assistant under Steve Yzerman in Detroit), but there is a familiarity there with Shanahan going back to their playing days with the Red Wings.
Other names that have the experience and decisiveness, such as former Penguins GMs Ray Shero and Jim Rutherford may not be good fits for other reasons. Shero was in the mix for the Philadelphia Team President position before it was given to Keith Jones, but reportedly was looking for more input in hockey operations.
Rutherford is a former Leaf, an Ontario native, and three-time Cup-winning GM in Carolina and Pittsburgh, but the current Vancouver Team President is 74 years old and might not want the challenge or deal with the bureaucracy of Toronto’s complicated ownership management situation.
The name of former Calgary GM Brad Treliving has received the most mention. He was given permission to talk to other teams and has nine years of NHL experience in a Canadian market, but his record with the Flames is mixed.
Blues GM Doug Armstrong has also been mentioned, but he reportedly does not have an out in his contract with St. Louis and has three years remaining on his deal. TSN’s Darren Dreger correctly reported that the Leafs could approach the Blues for permission to speak to Armstrong, but that not happened.
Undoubtedly the Leafs will be scouring the league for candidates, some of which have jobs already in the league, but their search will have to be relatively quick.