Kyle Dubas, if he remains GM of the Maple Leafs, is open to trading core pieces; Auston Matthews wants to re-sign

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About the core of the Maple Leafs.

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As you fill out Toronto’s roster for the 2023-24 regular season opener, you may want to use erasable ink. Or a pencil.

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Kyle Dubas ended an emotional press conference Monday with this little tidbit: He’s much more receptive to major trade changes to the Leafs roster this summer, assuming he remains the team’s general manager.

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Captain John Tavares and defender Morgan Rielly each have a no-move clause, but Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander do not yet.

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Matthews and Marner have no-trade clauses effective July 1, and Nylander has a modified no-trade clause (a 10-team no-trade list) effective the same day.

Dubas noted how the Florida Panthers transformed themselves last July, trading star forward Jonathan Huberdeau and defenseman MacKenzie Weegar to the Calgary Flames and bringing in superstar Matthew Tkachuk. The latter played a key role as the Panthers eliminated the Leafs in the second round.

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“I would consider anything with our group that would give us a better chance of winning the Stanley Cup,” Dubas said. “So I wouldn’t take anything off the table at all, and I think everything would have to be considered in terms of anything to do with the Leafs.”

Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner spoke to the media. Its no-trade clause goes into effect on July 1. JACK BOLAND/TORONTO SUN
Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner spoke to the media. Its no-trade clause goes into effect on July 1. JACK BOLAND/TORONTO SUN

Whether Dubas makes these decisions has to be decided. His future is unclear, but Dubas insisted he would either be the Leafs’ GM next season after signing a contract extension, or he would not work for another National Hockey League team.

As Dubas resolves this issue with his family, the Leafs’ core players start the summer with the same desire: to return next season and finally get things working in the playoffs.

Matthews can get a new contract from Toronto as early as July 1 and he has a desire to complete that contract.

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“My intention is to be here,” Matthews said. “I think I’ve said that before about how much I enjoy playing here and what it means to me.”

How important is it for the 25-year-old and the Leafs to secure a new contract before the start of next season?

“I think it’s important and that when the time comes, it will work out,” Matthews said. “As far as everything else goes, it’s a real honor (to play in Toronto). The work we are doing to continue to strive for this end result is extremely motivating.”

Matthews has one year left on a five-year, $58.195 million deal, a deal capped at $11.634 million. Barring a new contract, he will become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

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There has been speculation that Matthews, the reigning Hart Trophy winner, played with an injury during the playoffs. He acknowledged this but did not go into details.

“You get bumps and bruises like everyone else and that’s the nature of the playoffs,” Matthews said. “It was something I grappled with a little bit throughout the season and through the playoffs. Ultimately, it’s my job to enforce that and do what I can to help the team win.”

Nylander could also sign a new contract on July 1.

“It would be nice if we could work that out, but I’m not focusing on that too much,” Nylander said. “I love it here. I don’t want to be anywhere else. I want us to try for as long as possible.”

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Is Marner concerned the Leafs would accept calls for a possible swap before his no-move clause goes into action?

“I can’t control any of that,” Marner said. “We’ll see what happens. As I said before, I was very lucky to play for this team and I want to continue playing for this team and I hope to get to play for this team.

“This is all I ever dreamed of and to be able to do it now is pretty surreal. Hopefully I can continue this honor.”

Regarding the team’s appearance in October, Matthews gave an idea of ​​the tone of the exit meetings.

“The sense is that it’s kind of in the air,” Matthews said.

As Dubas pointed out, everything is on the table.

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