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Former NHLer Kypreos Rips Dubas’ Work as GM in Toronto



Pittsburgh Penguins trade for Erik Karlsson, Kyle Dubas explained the process

Kyle Dubas, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ president of hockey operations and general manager, earned mixed reviews for his work as GM in Toronto.

It’s not hard to figure the camp in which Nick Kypreos, a former NHL player and “contributing columnist” for the Toronto Star, resides.

Kypreos offered a blistering assessment of Dubas’ performance in Thursday’s editions of the Star, holding him accountable for limiting the Maple Leafs’ options as the NHL trade deadline approaches.

He suggested that Dubas would have benefited from receiving a few “mulligans” for personnel decisions he made, writing that, “Even if it wouldn’t have saved the former Maple Leafs GM his job and earned him the autonomy he was desperately seeking last off-season, it would have left his replacement, Brad Treliving, more cards to play going into Friday’s NHL trade deadline.”

Kypreos also criticized Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan, at least in part because he made Dubas GM.

“Even if I live to be 120 years old, I’ll still never understand (Shanahan’s)  decision to hire an inexperienced GM at such a crucial time in the franchise’s history,” he wrote. “I take no pleasure in revisiting Dubas’s run as GM of the Leafs; I believe it’s generally better to let bygones be bygones. But moving on is hard to do when you think of the mountains that need to be moved by Friday afternoon for the Leafs to fill significant holes on the roster that Dubas, now leading the Pittsburgh Penguins, left behind.”

Kypreos caustic assessment began with the contract that lured free-agent center John Tavares to Toronto.

“Not only did giving Tavares $11 million per season set the tone and force the Leafs to overpay its (sic) young stars for years to come, it also put the writing on the wall for Nazem Kadri,” Kypreos wrote. “While Kadri was far from the model citizen, the decision to move on from him in 2019 was perplexing with the value he provided at a $4.5 million annual salary. There was some frustration over Kadri not keeping his emotions in check but, instead of trying to develop that part of his game, Dubas gave him away for average players in Alex Kerfoot and Tyson Barrie, who Dubas had pegged as a top-three defenseman. Clearly he was not that.”

Kypreos attributed a subsequent “domino effect” of personnel moves — including Dubas’ failure to have been “more creative and found the money to pay” forward Zach Hyman, rather than lose him to Edmonton in free agency — made to allow Toronto to remain salary cap-compliant to the contract Tavares was given.

He went on to skewer Dubas over assets he surrendered at several trade deadlines.

Kypreos wrote that he’s “still not sure why” Dubas gave Columbus a first-round pick and two fourth-rounders for 33-year-old forward Nick Foligno in 2021 and said Dubas last year “doubled down on his bold-but-unsuccessful trade-deadline track record by acquiring Ryan O’Reilly and Noel Acciari. It wasn’t cheap, costing first-, second- and third-round picks plus two prospects. O’Reilly contributed more than Foligno did and could have been worth the steep cost had he stuck around, but Dubas didn’t get any assurances the Toronto-born center would re-sign. When O’Reilly choose to join Nashville, he became another expensive rental.”

(Editor’s note: Dubas had been hired by the Pittsburgh Penguins weeks before O’Reilly signed with the Predators.)