Shanahan is ready to begin the search for a new Maple Leafs GM

Many candidates to succeed Dubas

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Brendan Shanahan has no time on his side.

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With the long May weekend ahead of us, the Maple Leafs president won’t be relaxing much, instead sitting down and beginning the search for a new general manager.

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“I’m going to be open-minded about who that person can be,” Shanahan said Friday. “I want to be open to all candidates. Having an experienced CEO would be an attractive trait.”

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The Leafs’ most important issue is the contract status of Auston Matthews, who can sign a new contract on July 1. Matthews and Mitch Marner will have no-move clauses effective July 1, while William Nylander will be able to file a 10-team no-trade list the same day.

With that in mind, and with the National Hockey League drafting on June 28th and 29th and free agency starting July 1st, the Leafs’ new GM needs to hit the ground running.

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Shanahan said he will for now rely on the knowledge of Leafs assistant general manager Brandon Pridham, who could be a candidate for the move to Dubas’ office.

“We’re going to make it this time,” Shanahan said. “I had a great conversation with Wes Clark (director of amateur scouting) about the draft.

“There are a lot of people (on the Leafs team) who are shocked and saddened. But we also have a lot of people who come to work, do their jobs, and prepare to do the things they get paid to do.

“Of all major decisions, finding a general manager is the most important. I don’t think you have to rush it. I want to be very thoughtful and thorough. But I think it’s a priority and needs to happen pretty soon.”

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Among the people that Shanahan might consider:

• Brandon Pridham

The Leafs’ salary cap/contract expert wouldn’t need to know anyone in the organization. You know how the Leafs GM works and vice versa. That includes the players and their agents, a factor that could be crucial in contract decisions involving Matthews and Nylander. If not with the Leafs, Pridham could become GM with another team in the near future. When asked if Pridham was a candidate, Shanahan said he was “not excluding anyone at this point.”

• Brad Treliving

If Shanahan lives up to his promise of experience in the position, Treliving would be a great fit. Treliving was the GM of the Calgary Flames from 2014 until April when he and the team agreed to part ways. Treliving led the club to the playoffs five times. And if the decision is made that one of the core foursomes has to go, remember that Treliving might not shy away from doing so, having traded Matthew Tkachuk to the Florida Panthers for Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar last summer.

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• Marc Bergevin

Roughly 18 months after being fired as GM of the Montreal Canadiens, Bergevin is back in demand due to his association with open GM positions in Pittsburgh and Calgary. Bergevin is now senior GM advisor to the Los Angeles Kings and was twice a runner-up in Montreal’s GM of the Year poll.

• Eric Tulsky

The Assistant GM of the Carolina Hurricanes has long been one of the sharpest analytical minds in the game. With the Leafs’ extensive research and development staff, Tulsky would have everything he needed at his fingertips. Like Pridham, he’s likely to be hired as an NHL GM soon.

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• Peter Chiarelli

Much like Treliving and Bergevin, there’s no denying the experience that Chiarelli, the vice president of hockey operations for the St. Louis Blues, would bring to the job. As GM of the Boston Bruins, he won the Stanley Cup in 2011, and when he was fired from the Bruins four years later, he was hired to fill the same post with the Edmonton Oilers. However, some trades he made with the Oilers caught up with him, including the transfer from Taylor Hall to New Jersey for Adam Larsson.

• Mathieu Darche

The assistant GM/director of hockey operations for the Tampa Bay Lightning was part of a front office that built a team that knows how to win. Two Stanley Cups and another Finals appearance last year look good on Darche’s resume.

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• Stan Bowman

Bowman helped become champions with the Chicago Blackhawks but needs the green light from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman to return to the sport after a 2021 sexual assault case in Kyle Beach involving the Hawks came to light. We’d be curious if Shanahan would consider Bowman considering the Beach scandal.

• Other candidates could include: Leafs assistant GM Hayley Wickenheiser; Steve Staios, Special Advisor to the Edmonton Oilers; Mark Hunter, former assistant GM of the Leafs and GM of the London Knights; former Arizona Coyotes GM John Chayka; Scott Nichol, Assistant GM of the Nashville Predators.


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