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NHL Notebook: ‘Everything is on the table’ for Maple Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs
Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryley Delaney
1 month ago
It’s that time of day for an NHL Notebook!
We’ll look at the fallout from the eliminated teams, mainly the team from the centre of the universe, as their 2024-25 team could look much different after Sheldon Keefe’s firing.
In the last NHL Notebook, we looked at rumours surrounding Mitch Marner, a member of the team’s core. However, he may not be the only one involved in trade rumours this off-season…

Everything is on the table for the Leafs

To put it simply, the Maple Leafs are in shambles after losing in overtime in Game 7. President and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Keith Pelley, team president Brendan Shanahan, and general manager Brad Treliving sat down with the media and basically alluded to the fact that no one on the core was safe. Shanahan himself said the phrase “everything is on the table.”
Could Mitch Marner be on the move? Of course, he’d need to move his no-trade clause. What about the declining John Tavares, who makes $11 million annually? Of course, he’d need to move his no-move clause. Could the Leafs trade William Nylander, whose $11.5 million annual deal will kick in next season while also having a no-move clause? Alternatively, the Leafs could be bold and move 69-goal scorer Auston Matthews… who also has a no-move clause.
At the end of the day, the Leafs will need to significantly upgrade their defence core, as it’s just Morgan Rielly with a bunch of not-so-great defencemen. Moving one of the core four could help, but the Leafs really have no leverage in that regard due to the no-move clauses.

The team was dealing with numerous injuries

That said, the injuries that piled on for the Leafs certainly didn’t help. In the same interview, Brad Treliving clarified some injuries.
Auston Matthews missed Games five and six due to a “head injury.” Like Matthews, Nylander missed a few games due to severe migraines, which are never fun, speaking from experience. Bobby McMann missed the entirety of the series due to an MCL knee sprain, while deadline acquisition Connor Deward had shoulder surgery. Netminder Joseph Woll had a sprained back.
It’s hard not to look at the injuries and feel bad for the team, but the fact of the matter is that all teams deal with injuries during the playoffs.

Captain John Tavares will head to Prague

One player who didn’t suffer injuries was captain John Tavares, who’ll be heading to Czechia to participate in the IIHF World Championship for Team Canada.
Last season with the Leafs, Tavares scored 29 goals and 65 points in 80 games, down from the 36 goals and 80 points the season prior. In seven postseason games, Tavares scored a goal and an assist, down from the four goals and eight points in 11 games last postseason.
Still, Tavares will be a big addition for Team Canada, who kick off their 2024 IIHF World Championship against Great Britain on Saturday at 4:20 AM MT.

Sheldon Keefe could already have another job lined up

One member of the Leafs organization has already felt the impact of the team’s failure, as Sheldon Keefe was fired by the Leafs on Thursday morning.
According to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, the New Jersey Devils have already received permission to speak with Keefe for their vacant head coach vacancy.
Other coaches linked to the role are former Oiler head coaches Jay Woodcroft and Todd McLellan and 2019 cup-winning coach Craig Berube. All three of these coaches could be under consideration for the Leafs vacancy as well.

Valtteri Puustinen re-signed

One team that didn’t make the 2024 playoffs is the Sidney Crosby-led Pittsburgh Penguins, who missed the big dance for the second consecutive season. Well, one depth piece for the team, Valtteri Puustinen, has been re-signed to a two-year deal worth $1.5 million annually.
Last season, the seventh-round pick in the 2019 draft scored five goals and 20 points for the Penguins, after putting up two consecutive 20+ goal seasons with Pittsburgh’s American Hockey League team.
If the Penguins wish to contend at any point in Crosby’s later years in the league, they’ll need to make big changes soon. They already traded 30+ goal scorer Jake Guentzel to the Carolina Hurricanes, but they’ll need to make a big move or two this off-season. For example, they traded their 2024 first-round pick, among other pieces, to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for the reigning Norris winner, Erik Karlsson.
A move like that, but for a forward, would go a long way in helping the team find the playoffs again.
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