What comes next for Sheldon Keefe and Kyle Dubas?
The Maple Leafs face an offseason where everything is in question but amongst the biggest decisions to be made relate to the futures of general manager Kyle Dubas and head coach Sheldon Keefe. Will either be back in Toronto next season?
OMAR: I hate this next question. I always hate answering this question after the Leafs get eliminated. But what happens next? Again, I am not looking forward to this offseason because is this the year? Is this the year where the haunted change that fans, that media, that people who cover teams in depth, is this the year that we've been waiting for? Is this the year where we get that change?
Kyle Dubas, I think Kyle Dubas did everything he could, truly. I mean, yes, half your cap and dedicated to four players, that's a decision. That's a decision that they've lived with for a long time. After they brought in Tavares, they made him Captain. You gave Matthews that extension. You gave Marner that extension. But again, I think at this deadline, I think he did everything he could to make the team as deep and as playoff-ready as he could.
O'Reilly was sick. Acciari was sick. Luke Schenn was sick. I hope they come back. I hope they find a way to make the money work and they come back maybe for a year or two. I think Schenn, you could probably get him on another league minimum deal if he's willing to come back. I think Acciari could stay for a pay cut as well.
The big question mark is O'Reilly and whether he's willing to come back. But if he comes back as well, that'd be cool. Jake McCabe was good in the first round. He wasn't as good as in the second round. But he was definitely good in the first round.
Sam Lafferty, good speed, was heavy, had a mean streak, had pushback, had fight, scored goals. So again, I think Dubas did everything he could to, again, strengthen the core that he's built.
Now, Sheldon, Sheldon Keefe was out coached in every game in the playoffs. I am willing to say that definitively. Against John Cooper, there were line combinations that he just couldn't match. He got poor tradeoffs in offensive zone start or defensive zone starts. And then there would be moments where he'd make conscious decisions to play certain lines in certain areas of the game that didn't really resonate too much, even in this series.
David Kampf's line, or his units, because they were running 11-7, they got a lot of starts in the offensive zone. I'm not sure why because he's supposed to be your shutdown person, the one that you rely on in the defensive zone. The minutes on the blue line, again, decisions to play certain players and not play certain players or when certain players are in the lineup, they're in the lineup a lot, the justification for players like Justin Holl was that, hey, they're great on the penalty kill, and then they're not.
So I think Keefe could have been a lot better. A lot of those games, especially in the second round where the Leafs just didn't show up, I hold that to him as well. Yes, the players should know they're here. They should know. They should be able to wake up for a playoff game in the second round. But as a coach, it's your job to get the team as prepared as possible and to make the adjustments when you can make the adjustments.
And I think some of the adjustments and some of the changes came a little too late. And there are some changes that could have been made early when there was damage but not necessarily bleeding. And I think a lot of the changes came when the bleeding was a little too over the top.
If Luke Schenn doesn't accidentally run into Ilya Samsonov, Samsonov's probably still playing. Now, I don't think it was that one collision with Schenn that injured Samsonov. I think he was battling through something. And then that decision got made. And as we saw, Woll was a viable option. He was great. He was outstanding. He kept the Leafs in it. He gave them an opportunity to win game four, gave them an opportunity to win game five.
And even when he entered the game in game three, he wasn't the reason why they lost that game. The team in front of him gave up. And they didn't-- So Keefe, I don't know. I don't know.
And here's the thing, Dubas doesn't have an extension. Keefe still does. So I wonder, if Dubas gets an extension and he stays, I guess you have to think that Keefe stays. Or does Dubas look at Keefe and say, you know what? Yeah, we're friends. Yeah, we have a good relationship off the ice. But we kind of need to get this team off to a higher start or off to a higher place?