There are a ton of questions with another playoff loss and early exit from the postseason for the Toronto Maple Leafs. A team that has failed to live up to expectations, many believe this is the closest the Leafs have been to be a real contender. Falling short by one game, this Leafs team is a good one, but there’s a call to make changes after the club as constructed failed to get it done, yet again.
Related: Three Takeaways from Maple Leafs’ 2-1 Loss to the Lightning
A few different insiders took a look at what might come next for the team and the opinions are varied as to what ownership should do.
NHL Sportsnet analyst and hockey insider Elliotte Friedman doesn’t feel the team needs to undergo major changes and seems against the organization making sweeping changes in the front office, behind the bench, or on the roster. He argues that this team came awfully close and that there isn’t a gaping hole anywhere or one reason to point at the team’s failures. They simply lost to a better team in a close seven-game series.
Chris Johnston of TSN agreed and wrote that the Maple Leafs were “one bounce, one favorable call, or one more converted power play away from entering the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs as the likely favourite to come out of the Eastern Conference.” He thinks this is not the year to shake things up and that those years have come and gone already. If there was ever a time to make big changes, it was last season.
Kelly Hrudey didn’t necessarily agree with either man suggesting that losing is losing and the Maple Leafs failed get past a beatable team in the Tampa Bay Lightning. Failing twice to put the Lightning away, Hrudey didn’t think anyone should get fired, but does believe the roster needs some adjusting.
What Are the Maple Leafs Missing?
Kristen Shilton of ESPN.com writes that a lack of killer instinct is the biggest issue for the Leafs, but she doesn’t say that missing pieces is exclusive to the roster. She argues that team president Brendan Shanahan and general manager Kyle Dubas are lacking it too and should have to answer for yet another first-round failure.
She writes, “Both execs have doubled (and tripled) down on the Leafs and their core over the past two years in particular. The plan hasn’t worked.” She then asks if it’s time to move in a different direction, even though the team didn’t play badly in the offseason. There isn’t much cap space with which to play with or make changes so perhaps the people at the top need to change.
Conflicting Ideas on What to Do With Coach
Darren Dreger of TSN writes that he doesn’t think the Maple Leafs will make a change to the coaching staff and that Sheldon Keefe will be back next season. Dreger suggests there will be roster changes based on salary cap and free agency, “but, I don’t foresee drastic changes or sense that the coach or GM are in trouble.”
Barry Trotz New York Islanders coach fired
James Mirtle of The Athletic isn’t so sure. He writes that the fact Barry Trotz is available as a coach might change things. He notes, “The coach is maybe a little bit of a harder decision — but only a little bit. And only because a veteran like Barry Trotz is available.” He did say that if the Maple Leafs commit to keeping the front office, they’ll likely keep Keefe, because he’s Dubas’ guy.
What Players Could Be Moved?
Jonas Siegel of The Athletic notes that the core forwards on the Maple Leafs are unlikely to be moved. He doesn’t believe defensemen Morgan Rielly and T.J. Brodie will be going anywhere either. Siegel isn’t sure about John Tavares’ role on the team as he struggled defensively at times, but also acknowledges the contract isn’t one the Leafs can do much about.
There will need to be a plan when it comes to the goaltending as Jack Campbell is a free agent and will need a new contract, but he’s not sure if the Leafs will pony up the money Campbell will likely command or if the Leafs will look at other options.
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