A conspiracy theory why the Karlsson/Leafs trade never happened; maybe it had nothing to do with the salary cap
BY RYAN SMITHERAM AUGUST 8, 2023 (2:10 PM)
"It was a fairly lengthy process that goes back to my previous employment," said Dubas. Eye-brows were raised when Dubas said he had been trying to acquire Karlsson during his time with the Leafs and one has to wonder if Dubas had a trade completed to acquire him, but the idea was shot down by Brendan Shanahan.
We know that Dubas was seeking more control in his last minute counter-offer to the Leafs before Shanahan announced he wouldn't be returning as Leafs GM. Now, in moving to Pittsburgh, he exercised his full autonomy to acquire the reigning Norris Trophy winner. Many were wondering how the Penguins were going to be able to fit Karlsson under the cap, but that was no issue for them and if it was no issue for the Pens, then I'm sure that Dubas and Brandon Pridham would have found a way to fit Karlsson in under the cap in Toronto as well.
Would the Leafs have paid a higher price? It is likely, mostly because I'm sure the salary retention would have been higher and maybe that's when Shanahan flexed his authority on Dubas and shot the deal down. Perhaps, the deal included a member of the core four - someone like William Nylander, who Shanahan has praised constantly during his time in Toronto. Perhaps a deal for Karlsson would have included a top prospect like Matthew Knies.
Whatever the reason that the Leafs were unable to get a deal done for Karlsson, we may never know. But we do know that Dubas had his eye on a player or players that Shanahan and the board at MLSE disagreed with. Otherwise, why would more autonomy be one Dubas' list of priorities in his proposal to the Leafs as negotiations wore on? There's no evidence to suggest that it was indeed a Karlsson trade that MLSE came in and blocked. It may have been a Patrick Kane trade. If may have been another deal entirely. This is simply a theory - and one that makes a great deal of sense, given Karlsson's age and the term remaining on his current deal.
Do you think it was MLSE and/or Brendan Shanahan blocking a trade that caused Dubas to request more autonomy and control over roster decisions that led to his eventual dismissal? Cast your vote in the poll below!