Brad Treliving Addresses Breaking Apart the Maple Leafs' Core

Published September 27, 2023 at 7:56
When the Toronto Maple Leafs hired Brad Treliving to be the next GM everyone wondered if this would be the off-season that Toronto would move one of the "big four" forwards, as the contracts to both Auston Matthews and William Nylander are up at the end of the 2023-24 season.

No moves came and Treliving instead signed Matthews to a four-year, $53 million contract, making him the highest-paid NHL player in terms of AAV. He also committed to keeping the core four this season, even with the risk of Nylander becoming a free agent once the season is over.

No Need to Make a Change Just to Make a Change

In his first sit-down interview since taking the Leafs' GM job four months ago, Brad Treliving said he was not going to trade a core player to just make a trade, despite what some of the fan base clamours for:


My whole view was just, let's take a look at how we build our team here. The first thing was, these are really good players. So it's great to say — that great line, 'Oh, I'm going to make some changes.' Oh, OK. So just to stand up and say, 'I changed the core.' But you actually got worse. So it's great to say, 'I changed the core.' But moving a player for a lesser player doesn't make any sense to me. The more I got to know these guys, there's the talent and then the attitude and the drive and all the things that they've been through, I think those experiences are gonna serve us well. Because they've gone through all these experiences to make them who they are today.

Instead, the new GM wanted to bring a change to the dressing room, as the team did not bring back the likes of Luke Schenn, Michael Bunting, Ryan O'Reilly, Justin Holl, Alex Kerfoot, and Wayne Simmonds. Treliving opted instead to sign Max Domi, John Klingberg, Ryan Reaves, and Tyler Bertuzzi to bring a different dimension to the dressing room.

That's what all the (new) people bring, they bring some energy. So how it translates to the ice, the more juice you have, the more energy you feel, to me, the better you are going to perform. And it's not to say, the room is too quiet so we've got to make it loud. (My belief) is the more energy you can have, I do feel it's going to translate (to the ice).

Nylander's Future

Brad Treliving was not shy about discussing the plan with William Nyalnder, as he is not signed past this season.

I'm not making any bold statements about anybody. I'm just saying he's a really good player that we want to sign. And that's what we do. So that's the goal. And then we just keep working away at it.

The Leafs will make every attempt to sign Nylander before he becomes a free agent at the end of this season as they set their sights on competing for the Stanley Cup in 2023-24.

As Read On The Athletic - Maple Leafs GM Brad Treliving Q&A: On why breaking up the core wasn't an option

As Read On House of Hockey - Leafs GM Addresses Breaking Up the Core Four