Kyle Dubas Drops Hint As To His Mindset Regarding The Leafs Defence

Dubas is young, smart & most importantly, calculated. He understands the massive ramifications of everything he says & does in this media crazed, Toronto marketplace. Dubas is always talking to the fans either directly or though his actions. In doing so, he often gives Leafs Nation a glance into the front office. All you have to do is look for it.

You don't need to be a die hard follower of the Leafs to know what their glaring deficiency is as a contending team. Defence.

This is not new news. No, this has been talked about long before an ice cool Dubas strolled into a meeting with John Tavares and wooed him to Toronto with what can only be described as the most important Power Point presentation in the history of professional sports.

I for one, feel the Leafs have some great players on the back end and if the GM did exactly nothing, the team could still be in the running for the Stanley Cup for years to come. Could an improved defence greaten the Buds chances of lifting Lord Stanley's mug? Of course, however, we have seen far worse defensive cores win hockey's ultimate prize, even in recent years.

The Penguins most recent cup came with a back end not unlike what you would see on any given night in the AHL. The Capitols claimed top prize with an underwhelming cast of defencemen just this past season.

Dubas recently liked a Tweet, which I believe speaks volumes to Toronto's defensive struggles.

With some small systems tinkering and pairings adjustment, this defence can look surprisingly better.

First of all, as team defence gets better with the likes of Komorov, Bozak and JVR out of town. The heavy lifting on the back end should be reduced. They did after all, just add one of the better 2 way players in the league on July 1st in John Tavares.

Secondly, the cupboard is starting to fill with fair to high-end defensive prospects as well. Calle Rosen, Andreas Borgman, Timothy Liljegren, Rasmus Sandin, late bloomer Justin Holl & newcomer Igor Ozhiganov should all be poised to make the transition to the NHL in coming years. Just as we have seen with Travis Dermott, good things come to those who wait.

The key to slow and steady development from within is also cap driven. By developing and promoting the above-mentioned players based on the evaluation of Leafs top brass, it puts Toronto in full control of their soon-to-be, cap strapped financial situation. The above-mentioned prospects are going to be very affordable for years to come as the leafs manage their entry level contracts and RFA years. Realistically, if the leafs went out and traded for a quality 1st or 2nd pairing guy they will likely find themselves in the situation of having to take on and fit in an existing contract at a substantial AAV cap hit.

Just the nature of this business will see significant change for the Leafs blue line. This is likely the last season for an aging Ron Hainsey as his contract expires. Whipping boy, Jake Gardiner is also slated to become an Unrestricted Free Agent at the end of this season and there are about 30ish NHL teams able to make use of his services.

The irony surrounding Gardiner situations is, had he played on any other team in the NHL not under the Toronto microscope, Leafs fans would be screaming to trade William Nylander for him. Disagree with me?? Not so long ago all the chatter online was "Trade Nylander for Oliver Ekmand-Larrson". Really? OEL? Have you seen him play defence? No, because Oliver can't with bothered which such trivial things as denying zone entries or skating backwards.

In comparison OEL put up a solid 42 points with a minus -28 (+/-) rating. Gardiner on the other hand put up a career high 52 points and a positive +9 (+/-) rating which was actually down from his +24 rating the season prior where he also tallied 43 points.

Love him or hate him, Jake Gardiner won't likely be a Leaf next season unless he takes one gigantic hometown discount. In an era where average D-men are making bank, expect Jake Gardiner to seriously get paid if he choses to leave Toronto. With one of the best break out passes in the league, that explosive offence we have become accustom to will sorely miss #51.

Change is coming ladies and gentlemen, just not in the form you may be expecting. Just listen to Dubas, he is talking to us.

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