As many expected, the Toronto Maple Leafs have announced that Kyle Dubas will be the team’s next GM. Dubas will take over for Lou Lamoriello, who has been moved to a senior advisory role that might not last very long.
Dubas, 32, will become one of the youngest GMs in the league with his appointment, but he comes with more experience than many his age. At just 25 he was named the GM of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL, where he turned around the program and hired Sheldon Keefe—now head coach of the Marlies and potential NHL candidate—to lead the junior team. After just a few seasons in the OHL, Maple Leafs President Brendan Shanahan brought him in as an assistant GM and tasked him with reorganizing the team’s player development model.
With Toronto, Dubas has created a baseball-like system with several tiers of development. Players like Martins Dzierkals, Jeremy Bracco and Mason Marchment haven’t just been pushed into AHL games right away, but left to develop away from game action or even in the ECHL. That system—along with a relentless search for new talent—has led the Marlies, under the management of Dubas, to become an AHL powerhouse in recent years. The team is heading to their second Eastern Conference final in three years, after sweeping the Syracuse Crunch recently.
While it may be easy to point to Dubas and think of him as an analytics-based manager that will throw conventional hockey knowledge out the window, many of his peers believe something much different. Justin Bourne, a former video coach with the Marlies, wrote for The Athletic recently how Dubas is far from just a number-cruncher and thoroughly understands systems and traditional scouting techniques.
Still, many have questioned whether Mark Hunter will remain in his current position now that Dubas has been given the keys to the castle. Hunter, another assistant GM with the Maple Leafs, is famous for his scouting propensity and was another candidate to take over as the GM when Lamoriello stepped down. Whether he’s willing to stay and work under Dubas has been the topic of much debate recently, but nothing is clear at this point.
So the Maple Leafs head into a new era of management while the on-ice product is at its best in over a decade. Dubas will be tasked with making the necessary adjustments to push them from playoff to Stanley Cup contender, all while navigating contract negotiations for some of their best young players. If Lamoriello or Hunter (or both) depart, he may have to do it without the help of experience by his side.