Leafs GM Kyle Dubas doesn’t see his team’s goaltending as a problem
HAMILTON—Kyle Dubas remains confident with the Maple Leafs’ goaltending and defence, despite concerns among critics and the fan base.
“My take on it is we’ve got two guys that have been good goaltenders,” Dubas said Friday. “Jack (Campbell) was at an all-star level this year and Petr Mrázek is nearing 300 games. He’s been a good goaltender in his career.”
Dubas understood the negative reaction to Toronto’s 5-1 home loss to Buffalo earlier this week but felt goaltending “wasn’t the issue.”
“I think we tend to get a little bit game to game in this marketplace, and I’m not concerned about either one,” Dubas said, as he joined Team Canada’s Sarah Nurse at Tim Hortons Field to promote the March 13 Heritage Classic between the Leafs and the Sabres.
Campbell is expected to get the start Saturday against Vancouver, Toronto’s first since the Buffalo debacle.
Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe had Nick Robertson on the second line in practice Friday with John Tavares and William Nylander, who have not been as productive as they were earlier in the season. Alex Kerfoot was moved to the fourth line to make room for Robertson.
Dubas acknowledged that, with the NHL trade deadline coming March 21, his inclination is to add a defenceman over a top-six forward. He believes cap considerations might limit him to one solid move to bolster his team for the playoff run.
The Leafs project to have just under $4.5 million (U.S.) in cap space at the deadline, although that figure will depend on how long defenceman Jake Muzzin remains sidelined while he deals with his second concussion since Jan. 15.
Dubas said, if Muzzin is ready, he will be worked into the lineup in time for the playoffs. That would force the GM to work more cap gymnastics if he lands another player at the deadline.
“I mean, we’re going to be cautious and take it slow … he’s on (long-term injured reserve),” Dubas said. “So there’s not an imminent return and we just we have to be really careful with him; it’s two concussions in a brief amount of time. But I think, with a style of player like him, if he’s healthy and he’s good to go, he’ll need to get back and play before the playoffs.”
The Leafs have had a couple of embarrassing losses in the last two weeks to non-playoff teams — a 5-2 decision in Montreal and the Wednesday loss to Buffalo — and, of teams currently in playoff positions, they have allowed the most goals since Jan. 1. That’s a big reason Dubas wants to shore up his blue line before his team loses too much ground.
The Leafs entered Friday three points behind Florida and two points back of Tampa Bay in the Atlantic Division and fifth, and five points out of the lead, in the Eastern Conference.
“That’s four points that we have dropped (against Montreal and Buffalo) and, if you look at the standings right now, you can see it’s an easy math exercise to see where those four points would have us.”