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Dubas discusses off-season moves future Toronto
Photo credit: Sportsnet

KYLE DUBAS DISCUSSES HIS OFF-SEASON MOVES AND HIS FUTURE IN TORONTO

SEP 21, 2022  (16H07)      RYAN SMITHERAM
Kyle Dubas is about to embark on his fifth season at the Leafs' General Manager and ninth year with the organization and many wonder if this could be his last. As the season begins, Dubas enters the final year of his current contract that will expire on June 30, 2023. Under Dubas, the Leafs have improved year over year and by a total of 15 points in the standings in his first four seasons as the club's GM. Unfortunately for him, his five straight first round exits mean regular season improvements don't mean all that much anymore and neither does taking the back-to-back Stanley Cup Champs to seven games.

Speaking of the Leafs' most recent first round series loss, Dubas believes the Leafs had two chances specifically to close out and take a strangle hold on the series.

"It's about winning. We had chances to do it. We were up 1-0 and we were up 2-1 and I think Games 2 and Games 4 really cost us. That's where we lost our chances in my opinion. We have to learn from that. And nobody wants to hear how close you were until we do it.»

That is one thing that players have done very well under Dubas and for that matter Sheldon Keefe - learn. We saw every bit of that against Tampa in round one as they played the best playoff hockey any Leaf team has played in 20 years. They were physical, assertive and were not scared when they were trailing or held a lead. The complete opposite of the team we saw blow a 3-1 series lead against the Habs the season prior.

Dubas has stuck to his guns keeping Auston Matthews, William Nylander, Mitch Marner and John Tavares together even though the fan base has called for change off-season after off-season. Entering what could be his final year as the Leafs' GM he has put his faith in two reclamation projects between the pipes in Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov. Dubas, to his credit isn't worried about his job or if Murray and Samsonov will give the Leafs the goaltending they need to succeed saying, "my belief is in the analysis done by our goaltending people."

When asked if he was worried about his job being on the line by the Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons, he replied "Your career is defined by your whole body of work," while also indicating that he stands behind all of the decisions he's made. When he has made moves that haven't worked out, he has admitted it and even corrected most of them. Something that cannot be said for previous Leaf GMs. He hasn't been shy of adapting his thinking and development processes to improve the team and he should be credited for that.

I don't believe this will be Dubas' last kick at the can, should the Leafs flounder in the first round again, but if it is, he has left the Leafs in a better position than when he arrived. The prospect pool is deeper than it's been in decades, the Leafs have the best two-way center in the game along with one of the best wingers and the cup window is still wide open.

Leafs President Brendan Shanahan has already confirmed that there has been no contract extension tabled for Dubas. This is very much a pivotal season for the young GM. Win, and he's likely sticking around. Lose again.. well, you can use your imagination.

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