Dubas Reflects on his Greatest Misstep as General Manager of the Maple Leafs

Elliot Ben Jacob
June 24, 2023  (7:17 PM)

Dubas' View on Player Buyouts

Former General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Kyle Dubas, once revealed his perspective on player buyouts.
He described them as a "last resort," a standpoint influenced in part by his experiences with Jim Rutherford, the previous General Manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Unpacking the Phil Kessel Trade

A significant event that illustrates Dubas' position occurred in 2015, revolving around a major trade between Rutherford and the Maple Leafs.
This deal featured star forward Phil Kessel, with the Leafs agreeing to retain 15% of Kessel's eight-year contract, which came with an average annual value (AAV) of $8 million.
By the time Dubas assumed his role in 2018, the Leafs were left with a $1.2 million obligation, with four years still remaining on Kessel's contract.
This situation became more challenging as key players such as William Nylander, Auston Matthews, John Tavares, and Mitch Marner commanded a combined salary of over $40 million.

Impact of the Cap Crunch

The Leafs faced a tough salary cap crunch. They found themselves allocating $1.2 million to a player no longer on their roster. This circumstance elucidates why Dubas takes a reserved stance when considering player buyouts.
Dubas reflected on this incident, saying:
«We had that situation in Toronto, on a retention trade to Pittsburgh. You're looking at it, seven years down the road, and you still have that space, in a hard salary cap environment, limiting you.»

Potential Buyout Scenario in Pittsburgh

In contrast to the Leafs, the Penguins face a potential buyout with Mikhail Granlund. Following an underwhelming season, Granlund still has two years left on his $5 million contract.
The buyout would burden the Penguins for an additional four years. The first year would be more manageable, demanding less than $1 million, but the figure would surge to nearly $2 million over the course of 3 years.