Toronto Maple Leafs Bottle It
Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Kyle Dubas has decisions to make, but is he up to the task? Photo: Rene Johnston/Toronto Star via Getty Images

After working hard all season there is no worse feeling than dropping at the first hurdle for a player. As a fan of said team, it also stings, and not just briefly but until some form of playoff progression has been established. For the latter reason, I feel gutted for Vendetta Sports Media’s own Scott Logush who has had to watch the Toronto Maple Leafs bottle it time and time again in the playoffs. At this point, he must be numb.

HOWEVER, now is also the time to tell you I GODDAMN TOLD YOU SO! I called it! I said the Leafs would not get past the first round and boy did they ever collapse to prove me right! I’ll admit, with a 3-1 series lead against literally the worse team in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, even I thought they would prove me wrong. But this is the Maple Leafs, I needn’t have worried.

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Of course, there will be excuses, just like every year. John Tavares’s sickening injury didn’t help and you hope he makes a full recovery. But let’s face it, even without Tavares, you still had much more talent available on paper than your round one counterparts, they just didn’t show up.

That is on General Manager Kyle Dubas. I’ve heard it said several times that some players will get you to the playoffs while others will win you the Stanley Cup. It’s time for Kyle to distinguish which players are which in his current setup and adapt accordingly. Especially since it’s going to be a flat salary cap for the foreseeable future.

So let me help you here a little Kyle. Remember how I said MacKinnon was better than McDavid and that number 97 was just a very good regular season player!?! Well, you have one of those too and his name is Mitch Marner.

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Marner had a very solid, bordering on great, regular season. Good for him. He was nowhere to be found during the playoffs and handed the Montreal Canadiens their first goal in game seven with a horrendous turnover. Earning $10.6 million over the next four years is not ideal if he’s going to continue disappearing when it matters.

When you combine this with the Maple Leafs cap situation the decision should be relatively easy. You know what you need. Defense and an elite goaltender. Those won’t be easy to come by but with a chip like Marner to play, it certainly makes the task easier. The forward is at an age where the best is still yet to come, but can the Maple Leafs afford to wait, or is their window closing?

And let’s face it, Marner is not necessarily the problem. The cap hit is. You could just as easily move John Tavares and keep the young core together, but the return just wouldn’t be as significant. Either way, until Kyle Dubas and his band of merry men figure it out it’s a given the Toronto Maple Leafs bottle it again next year. Put it on the record.

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