Is the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Kyle Dubas playing It safer than other NHL general managers when it comes to signing players?
Maple Leafs’ general manager Dubas is constantly critiqued for signing big-money contracts. And that’s true for players he believes are essential to the Maple Leafs’ future. However, Dubas also resists some contracts that he believes might have a short shelf life.
Dubas Won’t Sign Players Past Their On-Ice Value
Specifically, Dubas’ big-money contracts don’t carry players past an age where they will not be able to contribute in ways that aren’t close to their salaries. William Nylander’s contract might have seemed unreasonable at the time of its signing, but it represents a team-friendly contract in this day and age. Both Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner are highly paid, but they continue to grow more productive every season.
Using this criterion, John Tavares’ contract is the worst of the bunch. However, he’s still nearly a point-a-game player. Likely that will change and the Maple Leafs’ captain will produce less as he ages. Still, Tavares will only be “only” 34 years of age when his current contract ends.
Compared to Dubas, Brad Treliving Is a Riverboat Gambler
Compare that to two recent Calgary Flames signings. Nazem Kadri was signed to a seven-year, $7 million AAV contract. The Flames’ general manager Brad Treliving also signed his 29-year-old new left-winger Jonathan Huberdeau to an eight-year contract extension with the Flames that starts next season (2023-24) and runs through the 2030-31 season, at an average annual value of $10.5 million.
When Kadri’s contract ends, he’ll be 38 years old. When Huberdeau’s contract ends, he’ll also be 38 years old. As noted, Tavares will be four years younger than either. As well, Tavares also seems like a better bet because he’s scored 895 points in 941 NHL games compared to Kadri’s 512 points in 739 games.
Looking at Some of Dubas’ Signings for Age of Expiration
To Dubas’ credit, he hasn’t signed other player contracts he knew in advance had such short shelf lives. Jake Muzzin’s contract might be the worst in that respect because it isn’t working out as well as expected with his concussions. Still, Muzzin will have just turned 35 when his current contract ends. It’s hard to blame Dubas for a player’s concussions.
By the way, Dubas failed to re-sign either Zach Hyman, who will be 36 years old when his contract expires with the Oilers. Dubas also failed to re-sign Jack Campbell, who will also be 36 years old when his contract with the Oilers expires.
In the reflection of the Kadri, Huberdeau, Hyman, and Campbell signings, Dubas looks quite conservative. By the way, TJ Brodie will be 34 when his contract expires. Morgan Rielly will be 35 when his contract expires.