New Direction for Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner with Craig Berube at the Helm

Marvin Azrak
July 8, 2024  (11:12)

Craig Berube, Toronto Maple Leafs
Photo credit: Sports Business Journal

With Sheldon Keefe out and Craig Berube in, the Toronto Maple Leafs are expected to shake things up, especially when it comes to Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner's ice time.

NHL Rumors: Do the Maple Leafs owe it to Craig Berube to give it a shot with Mitch Marner and the core 4?
The St. Louis Blues won the Stanley Cup in 2019 with captain and top center Ryan O'Reilly logging more than 20 minutes per game under Berube's stewardship.
Meanwhile, Matthews and Marner were seeing around 21 minutes per contest for Toronto under Keefe, with William Nylander close behind at about 20 minutes. Over a season, those extra minutes can lead to fatigue in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Unlike Keefe who rode the stars, Berube is likely to distribute ice time more evenly during the 82 game marathon to conserve energy for the 16 win sprint.
It won't drastically change the role of Matthews, Nylander and Marner, but they should get more rest which could pay dividends in the long run.
Everyone who's had 69+ goals and lead their team in points in a season:

— Wayne Gretzky
— Brett Hull
— Mario Lemieux
— Teemu Selanne
— Phil Esposito
— Auston Matthews (this season)

It's hard to really appreciate how insane this season was for Matthews.
GM Brad Treliving bolstered the Leafs blueline with the addtions of Chris Tanev and Oliver-Ekman Larsson, but must shift his eyes towards making changes to their forward group this, especially in the bottom six.
Here's a look at the Leafs' current lineup post Day 1 of free agency:

Is this team shaping up to be better or worse than last season? 🤔💙
How they address this will be crucial for Berube to effectively rely on all of his four lines next season.