What Johnsson, Bogosian Movements Tell Us About Dubas’ Desire to Adapt


TORONTO – When Kyle Dubas swore ‘we can and we will’ sign the Core Four, when the GM then invested over $ 40 million to do so, some may have failed to read the little ones characters.

Keeping intact an elite skill core of John Tavares, Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander also means “we can and we will” dismiss anyone who fills the time on the sidelines.

The last two off-season seasons have been an elimination of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ middle class forwards.

Patrick Marleau was a sentimental favorite but, alas, an overpayment that had to be shipped to facilitate Marner’s rise.

But taken individually, the contracts of Nazem Kadri, Connor Brown, Kasperi Kapanen, Trevor Moore, Frederik Gauthier and, now, Andreas Johnsson were not so bad. (A couple were downright good deals.)

However, taken in the context of a salary cap world – particularly a fixed cap world serving a pandemic – any Leaf attacker not named Zach Hyman, whose cap is over $ 1 million but below 6, $ 96 million, should be considered consumable. .

There’s a reason new guy Wayne Simmonds made sure to negotiate a no-transfer clause, even when those rarely come with $ 1.5 million deals. And there’s a reason Alexander Kerfoot ($ 3.5 million) heard his name casually thrown into the rumor mill.

On Thanksgiving weekend, Toronto’s financial plan might seem insensitive to a wellness story like Johnsson.

The affable Swede has gone from a seventh-round draft bet to a Calder Cup champion and AHL playoff MVP, to a top six winger with an offensive NHL juggernaut.

But the plan is calculated.

Strictly commercial.

Thus, Dubas traded “Mango” – whose nickname literally means “nice guy” in Swedish – to the New Jersey Devils in a move that is impossible to disguise as much as a pay dump.

Johnsson, 25, is a spirited 20-goal player in his only full NHL campaign.

Joey Anderson, a 22-year-old, five-foot-11 NHL / AHL player, has a chip on his shoulder and solid skates under his feet. He can become a decent role player. He can be caught in third line limbo, like a Nic Petan.

Anderson is a restricted free agent who needs a new contract with Toronto.

Getting rid of Johnsson’s $ 3.4 million AAV for the next three seasons sets the stage for a new influx of bargain bets – Simmonds, former Washington Capitals center Travis Boyd ($ 700,000 ), KHL importer Alexander Barabanov ($ 925,000) – as well as the fine value of Saturday night acquisition of Zach Bogosian ($ 1 million over one year).

We give the Bogosian signature two enthusiastic thumbs up.

Heck, dollar a minute, the recent Stanley Cup champion might offer even better value than TJ Brodie’s Friday lockup.

A pure forehand with solid underlying numbers, an average streak and a knack for killing penalties, Bogosian fits the bill for ‘presence’ and ‘different type of deep defender’ Dubas admitted he wanted. add to her list this week.

Hateers, give the GM some credit.

Dubas doesn’t light the fire on the master plan (ie for the “Trade Nylander!” Sector of the fanbase), but he adapts to survive, improve, prepare for them. playoffs. I hope.

He sacrifices goals for defense. He gives up some scoring chances in order to avoid some scoring chances. Because, hey, even the biggest possession team only owns the puck 58 percent of the time.

And with the signing of Bogosian, the GM is both guarding against inevitable injuries and challenging young defenders like Travis Dermott, Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren to win their ice time.

Soon it will be up to the assembled Dubas players to adapt as well. They must be successful in the playoff trenches.

“I don’t find myself stuck on a thing,” Dubas said, in those hot hours after the early elimination by the Columbus Blue Jackets.

“The vision, for me, must always change. I don’t think a company or a team that just has one vision or one way of doing things and doesn’t change is going to be successful in the long run.

“I’m not someone who’s stubborn with this. The goal will be to put us in a different position next year, certainly, to the point where we progress and support ourselves as a competitive team year after year.

In the wake of Saturday’s moves, restricted free agents Dermott and Ilya Mikheyev (the latter filed for arbitration) are still in need of contracts. Dubas has about $ 1.3 million of ceiling space to work on.

The 2020-2021 Maple Leafs roster is hardly set in stone.

But it is more and more difficult to play against.


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