The Maple Leafs acted quickly to fill the position of general manager on Wednesday when they hired Brad Treliving, who formerly served in the same capacity in Calgary for nine years.
Treliving replaces Kyle Dubas, who was fired on May 19 after the team was eliminated by the Florida Panthers in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. In five years with Dubas at the helm, Toronto won one playoff round.
The Flames teams that Treliving built reached the playoffs in five of nine seasons and also never advanced beyond the second round. He parted ways with the organization five days after the conclusion of the 2022-23 regular season.
Calgary put on a late stretch run but failed to reach the postseason. The previous year, after finishing 50-21-11, it was ousted by Edmonton in five games in the second round.
Treliving will be formally introduced as the franchise’s 18th general manager on Thursday by Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan.
“Brad brings a wealth of knowledge from his years of experience,” Shanahan said in a statement released by the club. “He has earned tremendous respect amongst his peers throughout his years in the NHL and has built excellent relationships at all levels within the game.
“We are confident that Brad’s leadership and strategic vision will elevate the Maple Leafs in our continued pursuit of a championship.”
The Flames went 324-238-58 under Treliving and twice won 50 games to finish atop the Pacific Division. Before Calgary, he was the vice-president of hockey operations and assistant general manager of the Phoenix Coyotes for seven years.
“I am very excited and honoured to join the Maple Leafs,” Treliving, 53, said in a statement. “I’m thrilled to join an Original Six team and recognize how much the Maple Leafs mean to the community. This is a very exciting day for my family and I.”
In Toronto, Treliving has a number of pressing decisions to make and not a lot of time to make them.
First on the list is whether to retain Sheldon Keefe as coach.
Keefe has been extremely successful in four seasons behind the bench during the regular season. The team improved each year and went 166-71-30 under his direction. He is 13-17 in the postseason, however, with his only playoff-round victory this year against the Tampa Bay Lighting.
Shanahan reportedly would prefer to have Keefe return but is leaving the decision up to Treliving. Most general managers prefer to hire their own coach and not go forward with the incumbent.
If fired, Keefe will likely get another job in the NHL, as is expected to happen with Dubas. He recently was interviewed for the GM position in Pittsburgh.
Treliving will also have the unenviable task of addressing the contracts of forwards Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander. All are signed through the 2023-24 season but have no-movement clauses that go into effect on July 1. Matthews is also eligible to sign a long-term extension the same day.
Among them, the three earn more than US$28-million a year. That is one-third of the league’s salary cap for each team. Matthews, Marner and Nylander have all been very productive and will likely seek pay increases.
Matthews is among the NHL’s top players and scored a league-high 60 goals in 2021-22. Following this season he said he wanted to re-sign with Toronto but it would come at a huge cost. Marner has had career highs with 97 and 99 points in each of the past two seasons. Nylander posted career highs of 40 goals and 87 points in 2022-23 but his contract would likely be the easiest to move.
Nylander makes just shy of US$7-million, while Matthews is paid US$11.6-million and Marner receives US$10.9-million.
Treliving could choose to keep Toronto’s core offensive players together or could deal one or more of them to shake up a roster that has underperformed when games count the most.
The Maple Leafs last won a Stanley Cup in 1967.
Treliving has shown a willingness to make bold moves. Last summer he dealt Matthew Tkachuk to Florida for Jonathan Huberdeau and signed Nazem Kadri as a free agent.
The Panthers got the better of that one – they are in the Stanley Cup final against the Vegas Golden Knights.