NHL Rumor Mill – May 13, 2023

by | May 13, 2023 | Rumors | 46 comments

An offseason of change could be coming for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Check out the latest in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

ESPN.COM: Kristen Shilton expects this will be an interesting offseason for the Toronto Maple Leafs following their elimination from the second round by the Florida Panthers.

Team president Brendan Shanahan must decide whether he’ll re-sign general manager Kyle Dubas after another disappointing end to a season. If he doesn’t, the search will be on for Dubas’ replacement.

That could lead to more change for the Leafs. Ryan O’Reilly, Michael Bunting, Alex Kerfoot and David Kampf are slated to become unrestricted free agents on July 1. Starting goaltender Ilya Samsonov is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.

Toronto Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe (left) and general manager Kyle Dubas (NHL.com).

The biggest question is whether there will be changes to the Leafs’ core of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares and William Nylander. They’re undeniably excellent regular-season players but Shilton wonders how long the club can pretend that’s good enough. Those four failed to score in the first three games against the Panthers as the Leafs fell behind 3-0 in the series.

TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons believes the priority for the majority ownership of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment is the status of Shanahan as team president. If they choose to keep Shanahan, he must come up with a plan that improves the Leafs’ playoff fortunes going forward. They cannot remain a strong regular-season team that keeps coming up short in the postseason.

That plan will involve Dubas, whose contract expires shortly. It will also involve the status of Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe. If Dubas is back he might want to retain Keefe but Simmons doesn’t believe he can do that now given their poor playoff record. He also criticized their best players for their so-so-postseason performances.

NHL.COM: Mike Zeisberger noted that Matthews is a year away from unrestricted free-agent eligibility. The Leafs can start contract extension talks with him this summer but will he be interested and will Dubas still be the general manager by then?

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Mike Stephens believes a change is necessary behind the Leafs bench regardless of whether Dubas stays or goes. He criticized Keefe’s coaching, suggesting he “emulates the innate tendencies of his team – when the going gets tough, revert to your comfortable and often misguided habits.”

If Dubas departs it could affect players close to him like Matthews and Tavares. He infamously said that Nylander wouldn’t be traded as long as he was the Leafs general manager.

Trading Tavares might be the biggest shoe to drop given his age but he’s got an $11 million annual salary cap hit plus a full no-movement clause. If he agreed to waive it, the Leafs might have to retain part of his salary to move him, which is a no-go for them.

THE ATHLETIC: James Mirtle also noted the decisions facing the Leafs regarding Shanahan, Dubas, Keefe, the Leafs’ core players and the status of the pending free agents. He pointed out that Matthews and Marner both have no-movement clauses kicking in on July 1 while Nylander will have a 10-team no-trade go into effect at the same time.

Mirtle also suggested the club must find a way to make oft-injured goaltender Matt Murray’s contract disappear. He’s owed $4.68 million on the salary cap for next season and a buyout would likely be too prohibitive to achieve under the flat-cap environment.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski believes the Penguins should hire Dubas as their next GM if the Leafs let him go.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks recently suggested the Rangers hire Keefe as their new head coach.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It didn’t take long for the goodwill the Leafs had from Toronto pundits and fans after advancing to the second round to evaporate over the course of their series with the Florida Panthers.

Following the elation of finally winning their first postseason series in 19 years, the harsh reality soon set in that this version of the Leafs couldn’t simply rest on that laurel.

Maybe the vibe from Leafs Nation this morning would be different if this series went the distance and was closely contested before the Leafs fell. Perhaps it would have a different feel if the core players had all stepped up and played consistently well in this postseason.

It’s undeniable that these Leafs are outstanding in the regular season. Of the seven 100-point seasons in club history, this version tops the list with 115 points in 2021-22 followed by their 111-point performance this season. Nevertheless, they still wilted in the heat of postseason play. Winning one playoff series since 2017 is just not good enough.

Ownership could engage in marginal changes or they’ll clean house in the front office and behind the bench. I doubt we’ll see them move most of the core players this summer.

Nevertheless, whoever sits in the GM’s chair this summer must determine whether Matthews and Nylander want to remain part of this club’s long-term future. If they wish to stay, start the process on July 1 of hammering out contract extensions. If they intend to test next summer’s UFA market then they should be moved for the best possible returns before their respective trade restrictions kick in on July 1.

I realize that’s easier said than done and it’s unlikely the Leafs will get equal value in return for either guy. However, losing them for nothing to free agency would be worse. Having them play out next season without extensions would also be an unnecessary distraction for their teammates and a slow-motion agony for their fans.

That’s my take this morning, Leafs fans. What say you? Let us know in the comments section below.


  1. Dubas and Keefe are gone, no doubt. Good luck to the new GM trading Tavares with that contract. Only chance is if the Leafs take back a similar bad contract. Think Matthews will get an extension and Nylander is traded (since he’s 1 year out from UFA)

    Dubas built this team right with leadership (O’Reilly and others) and depth, but the team really needs a top goalie. Samsonov is not that, even with the good season he had

  2. I don’t know how you can blame the GM for this? He has assembled a very good team. He has found value in players outperforming their contracts like Hyman, Bunting, Nylander, and Samsonov.

    I think his biggest mistake was signing Tavares and trading Kadri.

    The Leafs already had Matthews as #1C and Kadri as #2C. Kadri was a heart and soul player outperforming his contract with back to back 30G seasons at $4.5M

    Is it the fault of the GM that Tavares, Matthews, and Marner have gone stone cold each time their season is on the line?

    How can a team win when they have no heart? No emotion? No push back?

    Bennett took liberties with the Leafs all series and not one guy stood up to him. Gudas nearly ran Kampf through the boards and no retribution or even confrontation from the Leafs.

    This team needs a leader to drag them into the fight. Tavares isn’t the answer. I’m not sure Keefe is either.

    • Sorry Daryl, I didn’t see your post before posting mine.

      That said, it seems obvious to Leaf fans & non-Leaf alike what the issues are with the lineup.

    • No team has won a stanely cup with a player making 10 million or more, Leafs have 3 players that make 10 plus which as been prohibitive in filling out the rest of their roster especially in goaltending and defensive depth

      • Jack for the win. put your eggs in one basket or two like that and you generally don’t fo far. it is a team sport. when your “leaders” put their wallets first that is what you get. they need defense ans goaltending to win a cup all teams do. you dont win them with 6-5 games often.

      • Jack, Malkin earned $9.5 million in 2016 when the Penguins won the cup. Salary cap was under $72 million. Evgeni’s hit surpassed 13% of the cap, roughly equivalent to a 2023 salary of $11 million.

    • Lets get kyle dubas on a flight to Pittsburgh now.

      He is aggressive, good mix of the new analytics, but will do whatever it takes to help his club..

      I like his fire where hextall and burke were slugs and useless.

      If dubas was in pittsburgh and got us ryan orielly jake.mccabe luke schenn hell yes..

      Now hextall gets gramlund $5 million third liner and inhured kulikov and bonino


    • Daryl, I completely agree.

  3. In hindsight, the knee jerk signing of John Tavares has cost the Leafs more than anything.

    They are missing the jam that Hyman & Kadri would bring to this lineup & probably could have resigned if not for the Tavares contract.

    The Avs this season, definitely missed that element that Kadri brought to their championship lineup last season.

    • Uwey, your lager point is fair, Tavares’ signing (or any of the other core 4, none of whom do much in the playoffs) has caused cap problems and a constant flow of talent out the door. A problem that will persist unless one of the core four are moved.

      Khadri, however, was traded due to two lengthy suspensions in successive playoffs, not because of cap reasons.

  4. Re; the Leafs🍁

    This team needs A Leader, A Captain to lead them into the playoffs 100% .

    $11M John Tavares is Not the Answer.
    trade him and a pick to move him to the Hawks or a team with lots of cap space.❓

    They CAN’T bring the big 4 back next year⁉️
    Trade Tavares and Keep Ryan O’Reiley and make him Captain✔️

    is Keefe the Coach…?
    No I dont think he is the Right Coach for the leafs, they need to get a Good Experienced Coach in Toronto…who knows what it takes🤔

    The GM,
    i think Dubas will be back he has Fire in his belly to Win…, They need a Coach like that ? and he is not afrade to Trade…👍

    Lots of NHL GMs make one trade a year and lose… lots of games and go no where every year…

  5. Whatever the Leafs decide to do they need to do it in short order. If they are going to have a new GM he will have to be in place in time to prepare for the draft.

    Best comment I have seen so far from a frustrated Leaf fan:

    I was 18 and getting ready to graduate Gr 12 in 1967 when the Leafs beat the Canadians for the Stanley Cup. I’m now 73. I’m a patient man but this is ridiculous.

  6. Trade Matthews in a deal to Chicago for Bedard draft rights……. I did not say straight up of course.

    • As a fantasy player I take Mathews in that deal all day long of course.
      In the real world building a team from the scrap heap I think I keep the kid. Jmo

    • You think you’re getting bedard for Mathews lol? Why would Chicago give up a cost controlled prospect for guy who doesn’t show up for the playoffs.

  7. The core 4 and how much of the capspace they take up.

    Dubas had a solid plan in place, unfortunately for them and most other teams, Covid-19 hit and the salary cap frooze.

    Without the cap freeze, Toronto would’ve been in better position to add better depth, dman or goalie.

    • Caper, this Covid-19 excuse is wearing very thin. Many GMs were playing Russian Roulette, hoping cap increases would bail them out. And yes, it worked for a long time. But there are cycles in almost everything on earth. There were even warning signs back then – escrow percentage remained stubbornly high. In some years, the cap was raised by a higher percentage than league revenues. On a long term basis, that is unsustainable. If something can’t last forever, then, eventually it will end.

      Anyone who looked at the landscape in 2017 knew that an economic hard landing was around the corner. Zero percent interest rates for the better part of a decade could only lead to one thing – the house of pain. Covid-19 was just a convenient excuse.

    • I am not trolling Leaf fans with this reply, Caper, they have enough on their plate.

      But your comment about covid is an excuse for lack of leadership. What master plan ever goes off exactly as designed? What team thinks they have a lousy plan in place?

      Successful teams make in game adjustments and revise their game/business plans.

      And why, I wonder, do you grant clemency for Dubas when there are lots of other GMs whose plans were confounded by covid? Most have not kept their jobs as long as he has.

    • Sorry Toronto fans, I was trying to help, but some were having none of it.

  8. Fire Keefe
    Trade Matthews, Liligren to the Flames for Lindholm, Weegar and their 1st, 2024 2nd
    Get rid of Murray, by trade, sign Sammy.
    Trade Brodie to Wings for a 2nd
    Sign Acari, Schenn
    Get Coach Q!

    • Hi Johnny Z,

      I was thinking this am the Leafs need a New Coach who could they get with Lots of Experience, Knollage and Skill set…?
      They need a coach that can fix there problems the leafs have its very Clear its NOT Keefe to Coach The Maple leafs…

      Coach Q would be Perfect Choice as the Leafs New Head Coach…….👍🤙🏿👌

      • 👍👌💪

  9. Tavares will turn 33 before the next season starts. I doubt there is a team out there that would be willing to commit about 13% of their salary cap for 2 more years for an aging player in decline.

    Matthews for Bedard? Oh my, somebody started drinking early.

  10. Scooby Dubas last seen sneaking out the rinks back door carrying a box of office supplies.

  11. Mike Babcock & Mark Hunter :


    • such great leaders hahahahahahahah

  12. So happy to see Taveras and the Queafs lose. Darcy Tucker curse is alive and well. Hope Taveras slept well in his pj’s I sure did. At this time could care who wins the cup glad to see Boston, Rangers and Queafs out. They have no heart and will always be a big joke.1967 like Sonny and Cher said the Beat Goes on and on.

    • Pete you slept in your Leafs Pjs like Taveras (sic) or do you mean like Tavares did as a child too?

      Need some fish stix to cheer you up?

  13. The biggest disappointment for me this year was the way the Leafs started Round 2. They had slayed the TB dragon, Florida had just finished a grueling series with Boston and somehow Toronto lost the first two games on home ice.
    As a lifelong fan, that was heart breaking.

    I would also like to recognize Florida’s achievement. They beat one helluva team in Round 1 and just kept it going against the Leafs.
    They deserve a lot of credit.

    I’m getting too old for this.

    • I wished the team played more like the last three games in this series than most of the games they played this whole

      Obviously there will be changes but it’s odd for anyone to clean house without doing the steps…ie, 1. trade players, 2 fire coach, 3. Fire GM, 4. Clean house, new president/GM, 5. Sell/move team 😂 so I don’t know what Simmons is taking but he should share! There are no simple solutions and this problem is so complex that’s it’s ridiculous to think it’s as simple as to say trade this guy or that so you can…or fire the coach and GM is goring to fix this.

      I do expect to see them make moves like everyone knows they ought to, Leaf’s team or not. What those moves would look like is anyone’s guest but I wouldn’t be surprised if they went as big as maybe Marner getting moved out along with like a minor player and maybe a big D name like Brody. I can see them holding on to Dubas and considering how Keefe is a first time NHL coach he’s likely gone, I just can’t see him staying after this many kicks at the can unfortunately.

      It really is too bad, a couple of times being 110+pts team should give you better results than they have. You just don’t blow something like that up, right? You definitely need something changed but exactly should those be? That’s the interesting step in this continual quest.

  14. A contented Tampa fan, who thought the Bolts, with no Cernak & Point with bad ribs outplayed the Leafs who had enough puck luck to win an entire cup in one series, plus favorable officiating, sees the Leafs outplayed by another Florida team and the breaks even out. This group’s downfall started with the Stamkos non-signing Taveras reaction. but the real tell is that all five of the deadline acquisitions were easily in the top eight Leaf’s players in the playoffs. Shoulda swapped out one of the pretty boys for a couple of O’Reilly types years ago…the guys y’all boo, like Killorn, are the kind of guys you’ve needed. Id’ keep that born in Missouri rookie goalie, tho, and work with him ad your goalies trades have pretty much been wasted.

  15. I am not a frequent visitor on Twitter

    But there is a caption , as per puck clearly was over the line , as per Morgan Reilly’s heroics

  16. Im so tired of the 4 core narrative, Three of them makes 11m and one makes 7, which one that is outperforming his contract is easy to see, season or playoffs. The big mistake Toronto did was sign Tavares, because it set the floor for Mathews contract. You can have one player making +10m, the Leafs have 3. They need to figure out the Mathews and Nylander contracts fast and either resign or trade. Not sure who to blame really, everything went to pieces when they signed Tavares, kind of like the Rangers signing Panarin and Trouba. Should probably have traded Marner when he asked for 11 but to late now. I expect management back since they wont take blame and Keefe can only play the hand he is dealt. Big problems are 3C with speed, another top 4 D and a good goalie. So basically what you would have if not for signing JT and the money mark he set for Mathews and Marner

    • So three of the core four make $11 mil and one makes $7 mil. So what? That’s still $40 mil, nearly half the cap, on four players. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that that’s not a good idea.

      • True, my point is that Nylander has earned his contract since he signed it, except the season he was late after signing. The argument of the 40m is that they are not earning it, my point is that he is.

  17. Yzerman and Dorion have missed the playoffs for 7 and 6 years consecutively, yet Dubas has to go.

    Tavares played hard, was in the corners and the front of the net….but he’s a problem?
    Matthews has turned his game and was the back checker who covered the slot and even blocked some shots.

    Florida has been on a run and full of puck luck.

    Like BriseBois, Dubas manages to top up his lineup every year and not only be competitive but sit in the higher echelons of the league.

    • Habsfan, Detroit has missed the playoffs for 7 years, but Yzerman has only been here for 4.

      • His point is still made buddy. So after 3yrs of no playoffs they went to a guy where they now missed 4! That’s so efing Brilliant!!!

        Habfan30 you made some good objective observations. I think blame is on ownership…two major media companies own a large part of this team, this dumbing down the problem only helps their bottom line, right?

        In the end it’s just too bad they didn’t win and in the process get your team a higher draft pick to play with. Those damn Leafs pissing everyone off again.

    • Hf30. The results speak for themselves. A great regular season team that can’t get it done in the playoffs. Does anybody realistically think that bringing this core 4 back will give a different result during next year’s playoffs? Kyle needs to go because he refuses to accept that spending almost half of your cap on 4 players who, to date, have shown they are not elite playoff performers is not a recipe for winning a Cup.

    • Also remember that Dubas inherited a roster with Reilly, Marner, Matthews, and Nylander. Yzerman did not have quite that much good fortune.

  18. Nylander probably would be a good to bring back a too Right D.

  19. I have not posted here in a while. But some of you may remember, Habsfan, Caper and the older gentleman who was a Sens fan might recall.
    When Tavares jilted the Isles I wrote that the Leafs would never win a Cup with JT as Captain.
    Sour grapes as a lifelong Isles STH.
    Yeah, that had something to do with it.
    I was pissed off at him.

    But I also had seen every game JT had ever played on Long Island. And my assessment was that JT just doe not have IT.
    The IT that made Toews, Dustin Brown, and Matt Tkachuk raise their game to a new level in the playoffs.
    JT is a wonderful player and a great representative for the Leafs. But he lack that inner fire that makes players rise above when the game is on the line.
    He just ain’t got IT.

    In hindsight, the Leafs did us a huge favor taking JT off our hands. I never thought I would say this but
    losing Tavares was the best thing that could have happened to the Isles.
    Sad, but true.

    • And the heck of it is, the Leafs didn’t sign Tavares because they wanted or needed him, all they needed was to get the press off their backs for the failure to sign Stamkos (which history says might have been within reach had they not insulted him).
      And they didn’t need Stamkos either, it was the “hometown” myth at work. Players like the crew they brought in at this year’s deadline were available to open the cup window wider, & they passed….the Colemans, Goodrows, and even Perryis instead they traded away a Kadri & anyone who has watched the last few finals knows What I mean

  20. Hmmm, No George or Pengy today. Good day to take off for them.

  21. Gallant got fired for not getting out of 1st round, after taking team to Conf finals his 1st season. And Brooksie thinks they should bring in the guy that finally won a series and got bounced by the 8th seed? What is wrong with him?

    • LOL, Brooksie! He sure as some abstract takes!