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Maple Leafs’ Offseason: 4 Priorities the Team Must Engage


Maple Leafs’ Offseason: 4 Priorities the Team Must Engage NHL Trade Talk.

There should be a lot going on with the Toronto Maple Leafs, but is it? In this post, I’ll assess the Maple Leafs’ off-season priorities. As well, I’ll try to look at what the team needs to do sooner rather than later.

The Maple Leafs Find Themselves in a Tough Place

The Maple Leafs find themselves in a crucial offseason. While all offseasons promise some change, this offseason is especially interesting (and perhaps difficult). The team needs to evaluate its roster and make decisions to strengthen their team. Yet again, they showed promise but didn’t go far enough down the path toward Lord Stanley’s Cup.

The team needs to do better in season.

Related: Maple Leafs’ Quick Hits: Dubas, McMann, and Nylander

Maple Leafs Priorities – Sooner Rather than Later

In this post, I will discuss several potential moves the Maple Leafs need to address if the team is to position itself for success.

Priority One: Solving the Matthews Situation

One of the main issues the team must solve is how to handle Auston Matthews and his potential contract extension – or not. Given that the team isn’t willing to take a chance losing one of the top players in the NHL for nothing should he walk to free agency at the end of the 2023-24 season, a decision to trade Matthews might need to be made if there’s any indication he might not re-sign.

Will Auston Matthews Maple Leafs sign before July 1?

After July 1, his no-move clause kicks in. As a result, it’s important to figure out if there’s a mutual desire between Matthews and the organization to negotiate a new deal. Speculation isn’t good enough. Matthews and his agent need to assure the team that he wants to return.

If not, this is professional sports. It sometimes requires proactive decision-making that isn’t always what the team or the fans want.

Related: As Maple Leafs Fans, Are We Sure Dubas Traded Nazem Kadri?

Priority Two: Figuring Out the Goaltending Issues

Another key area of concern for the Maple Leafs is the goaltending situation. Settling on a reliable goalie should be high on the team’s priority list. A goalie who can provide stability and consistency is key to an extended playoff run. As noted, for me, Samsonov could be that goalie. And, Woll (again to me) is an acceptable backup.

Addressing the need in goal will give the Maple Leafs a strong foundation to build upon. I will also instil confidence in the team’s defensive play. The goalie and the team defence work together.

Priority Three: Sorting Out the Coaching Situation

The Maple Leafs’ coaching situation is in limbo. Head coach Sheldon Keefe has faced scrutiny, and a large number of fans seem to suggest the need for a change. Does the organization believe in Keefe as their coach?

Sheldon Keefe Toronto Maple Leafs NHL
Sheldon Keefe Toronto Maple Leafs NHL

The coaching staff must be trusted by the organization and the players. If there is a belief that Keefe can no longer create a game plan that maximizes the strengths of this talented roster, there will be a change. When a new general manager is named, that person’s task will be to quickly assess the coaching situation and make a change if it needs to be made.

Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Dubas’ Blame, McMann & Tkachuk

Priority Four: Clearer Communication with the Players

One surprise for me after the end of season was the rumour that the exit interviews with the players were “tough.” The note was that players had a lot to say about what the problems with the team were and why they believed the team didn’t do better in season. While the gist and content of those rumours have not been shared, there is a need for the Maple Leafs to address the challenges the players note.

The organization should not miss this opportunity to establish clearer communications with players that would lead to considerations for future planning. If Matthews is going to stay, he’ll be the centre of the team. There need to be discussions with him and other players as a way to gauge the sense of the team’s needs and to evaluate their visions for solutions.

Establishing a clear path forward will help create more effective decision-making and a more seamless transition under potential new leadership.

The Bottom Line

The Maple Leafs face significant decisions during the offseason. It is crucial to approach whatever is ailing the team with a proactive mindset. The areas of need I see are (1) the contract extensions that could be signed with Matthews and Nylander, (2) sorting out the goaltending situation, (3) making a decision about the coaching, and (4) helping to create more open communication.

Careful planning and decisive action are needed if the Maple Leafs are to build a roster that competes during season. That is right now the only way to meet the fans’ expectations.

Related: Should Maple Leafs Let Keefe Go? Four Key Questions

Maple Leafs’ Offseason: 4 Priorities the Team Must Engage NHL Trade Talk.

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