NHL Notebook: Kyle Dubas lands with Penguins, Leafs new GM says signing Matthews is top priority, and more
By Cam Lewis9 months ago
Just 30 minutes before the Toronto Maple Leafs were scheduled to introduce Brad Treliving as the 18th general manager in franchise history, the Pittsburgh Penguins announced that they’d hired Kyle Dubas to be their President of Hockey Operations.
Dubas’ new role in Pittsburgh is what he sought in Toronto and is what ultimately led to Brendan Shanahan deciding to let him go. Frank Seravalli reported last week that Dubas made a push to have Shanahan removed from the decision-making process so that he could have full autonomy over hockey operations.
The 37-year-old will now be tasked with cleaning up the mess that Brian Burke and Ron Hextall made in Pittsburgh. The Penguins finished the season with a 40-31-11 record and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2005-06, which was Sidney Crosby’s rookie season.
“I see this task ahead of us as a two-pronged effort,” Dubas said when he spoke to the media on Thursday. “In the short run, it’s to continue to make decisions that are going to allow the team to be competitive while the core group of players that have led the team to championships in the past continue to perform at the levels that they have for as long as they can.“At the same time, we’ll also begin at delivering a long-term hockey organization that can be the class of the NHL. And to reduce any gap in time that there otherwise could be from the end of those great players’ careers to the next era of great hockey for the Pittsburgh Penguins.”
With three stars in their mid-30s, Dubas will have to work quickly to turn things around in Pittsburgh. The Penguins have their big three locked up for a couple more years, as Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang inked new contracts last summer and the 12-year deal that Crosby signed back in 2012 will end after the 2024-25 season.
Meanwhile, in Toronto, Treliving has Auston Matthews and William Nylander signed for one more season and John Tavares and Mitch Marner under control for two more. He said at his introductory press conference on Thursday that getting Matthews signed to a contract extension this summer is a top priority.
“I communicated with Auston via text,” Treliving confirmed. “I know [his agent] Judd [Moldaver], there’s a great personal relationship [there]. We’re not going to get into any public discourse about contracts but obviously we know where these contracts are at. Auston is one of the elite players in the world. We’re not talking about [just] a good player. Getting to Auston is a priority.”
This situation is nothing new for Treliving. He came into the 2021-22 season with Johnny Gaudreau as an impending free agent and Matthew Tkachuk nearing the end of a three-year bridge contract. Gaudreau wound up leaving in free agency to sign with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Tkachuk requested a trade shortly after.
If Matthews doesn’t sign a new contract this summer, will Treliving risk having another star player walk after the season? Or will he make a trade before that can happen?
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