The Toronto Maple Leafs are imploding for all the wrong reasons. After a disappointing loss in the second round to the Florida Panthers, head coach Sheldon Keefe (likely, but not official) and General Manager Kyle Dubas are both out. The Toronto Marlies coaching staff is out too. Keefe was likely to be let go after the loss, and it looks like Dubas and President Brendan Shanahan had a falling out, leading to a change in heart last week. The Maple Leafs disarray could benefit the Rangers, but it may not be in the manner most expect.
For those hoping Kyle Dubas will replace Chris Drury, it’s not going to happen. Sheldon Keefe’s name has come up as a potential candidate for the Rangers head coaching position, which is rather funny. Many claim for no more retreads, which is what Keefe is by the most basic definition of the word. Still, Keefe has had success in the regular season wherever he’s gone.
An interesting head coach candidate
However his downfall and inability to win with that core four in Toronto is a familiar story. Inability to make in-game adjustments and poor matching up strategies led to his dismissal. That’s one of the primary reasons why Gerard Gallant was let go and why the Rangers failed in the playoffs this year (and against Tampa last year). Still, the Maple Leafs disarray may have led to one interesting name coming up in the coaching search, and that is Greg Moore, no relation to Dominic Moore.
Moore was the head coach of the Toronto Marlies for the last four seasons with varying success. Taking over in the middle of the 2019-2020 season, the Marlies have improved each of the last three full seasons under Moore, finally qualifying for the playoffs this season and winning a few rounds. Moore is at the heart of that improvement. Plus he has some Rangers connections, as he was part of the Chris Simon trade in the 2004 fire sale.
The Maple Leafs disarray will lead to Moore landing on his feet somewhere, even if it is unlikely he winds up in New York. If the Rangers are going the AHL coach route, then Kris Knoblauch is the likely front runner. He knows the current prospects and some of the kids at the NHL level. That gives him the leg up on Moore.
Maple Leafs disarray could lead to bad roster decisions
It’s highly unlikely the Maple Leafs break up the core four of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, and John Tavares. Despite their contract situations, the Leafs simply won’t get fair value back, unless they are looking at the Rangers and Artemi Panarin. There’s a salary match with Panarin and Marner, but that’s really where the similarities end.
The Maple Leafs disarray will continue until a new GM and a new coach are in place. After that, the decisions rest with the new hires. Depending on the hires, perhaps the Leafs start making horrible roster decisions. It has happened before with other clubs, and the Leafs are no different. The Maple Leafs disarray is potentially just getting started.
If, and this is a big if, the Leafs think they need more grit and guys who have been there before, then Barclay Goodrow could be enticing. Given the Leafs have just seven forwards under contract for next season, eight if you include Nick Robertson, with few notable prospects, there could be a match there. Again, highly unlikely, but this is what the Maple Leafs disarray could lead to.
However despite the Maple Leafs disarray, the Rangers and Leafs don’t really match up on a trade like this. There are really only two scenarios in which these teams match up. The first is a change of scenery/just done with you type of trade where Marner and Panarin are swapped as a framework. Read those last three words again please. As a framework. Not one for one. Panarin has a no-move, and Marner’s kicks in on July 1, so there’s a lot to do before that kind of deal gets done.
Or perhaps it’s a prospect swap. Nick Robertson is apparently not meshing there, for whatever reason. The Rangers need to decide between one of Zac Jones and Matt Robertson (no relation), at least for now. Perhaps something is there? Again, unlikely at best.
While we are looking at the Maple Leafs disarray logically, there’s always a chance a guy comes in and blows things up. You never know what happens then. And for the Maple Leafs fans that are reading this, you can probably say everything above and just target the Rangers disarray. These two teams seem to be imploding in real time, with no clear direction on how to win in their current windows.