Brad Treliving is the 18th general manager for one of the NHL’s most famous franchises (for many of the wrong reasons, a lot of people will tell you). And he needs to sort through the Herculean task of leading this organization to a Stanley Cup, something their backers at Ontario sportsbooks eagerly await.
Apologists and fanboys and social media typists point to the 111 points in the 2022-23 regular season and a playoff series win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Those who have been around the track more with this team, going back decades, are more astute: How does Treliving find a gold key in this mess, big picture-speaking?
The last time the Leafs won a Stanley Cup was 1967. No other NHL team matches that level of ineptitude if you define success by winning championships.
So Treliving sits in the big chair with that staring him in the face. Plus he has little time to sort things out this offseason, parachuting into a unfortunate situation when the team decided to fire Kyle Dubas after an apparent dispute over GM control.
So what are Treliving’s priorities, to put the Leafs in better stead with users of Ontario sports betting apps?
Get Auston Matthews Signed
He’s one of the best players in the league, even if you wanted to argue that 2022-23 was an off season for him. This past season Matthews still had 40 goals, 85 points and showed off a new commitment to the overall game – he was among the league leaders in plus/minus, at +31 (13th in the league).
Matthews is a future captain and has said he wants to stay in Toronto. But his no-trade clause kicks in July 1, as he heads into the last year of a deal that pays him $11.6 million per year according to CapFriendly. Treliving already said that a face-to-face with Matthews was his priority. Leafs bettors will hope that the pitch to Matthews on Treliving’s team plan has gone well, if it has happened already, because money sure won’t be the issue.
Matthews, 25, is a major cog in the plans of the Maple Leafs, who are +900 at DraftKings Ontario sportsbook to win the Stanley Cup in 2024.
Decide On The Coach
Sheldon Keefe has been hanging by a thread since the Dubas move. New general managers typically like to bring in their own guys. But it’s not easy to fire a coach who led a team to 50 wins, fourth in the Eastern Conference, and that first-round win over Tampa Bay, the first time in 19 years that Toronto advanced in a playoff series. The sooner Treliving can make an announcement that he has extended Keefe’s contract the better (he’s also heading into the last year of his contract).
At NorthStar Bet Ontario sportsbook, Gerrard Gallant is the top name on the odds board at +200, followed by Keefe, Joel Quenneville and Bruce Boudreau – though the actual top prop is “any other” at +100.
Sort Out The NHL Draft
This will be here before you know it – June 28-29, in Nashville. The Leafs own Boston’s first-round pick (No. 28 overall), acquired in the February Rasmus Sandin/Erik Gustafsson trade. But that’s it for Toronto until the fifth and sixth rounds.
The Chicago Blackhawks own the top choice and seem certain to take phenom Connor Bedard, a forward with the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League. At FanDuel sportsbook Ontario, Adam Fantilli is tipped to go No. 2 overall to the Anaheim Ducks, with -550 odds.
Figure Out The Free-Agent Market
The Leafs have a bunch of players coming off the books as free agents this summer: Michael Bunting, Alexander Kerfoot, Ryan O’Reilly, Luke Schenn and Justin Holl among others.
They have some shopping to do as well with some salary cap space when the NHL free agency market opens up July 1. With a cap of $83.5 million, the team has around $9.1 million to address roster spots, which goes up to $14.768 million if the injured Jake Muzzin remains out of the lineup on LTIR – according to CapFriendly.
Right now, the Leafs have six defencemen and seven forwards locked down contractually for next season. An advantage Treliving has is rookie LW Matthew Knies, a lock to make the roster next season after his playoff performance, has an entry level deal at $925,000. The team also hopes LW Nick Robertson ($796,667) can recover from a shoulder injury.
There seems to be no ambition to break up the Core 4 (Matthews, John Tavares, Mitch Marner and William Nylander) and their combined $40.5 million of salary. So that’s really going to make things interesting. Treliving, in his opening news conference remarks, didn’t sound like keeping the Core 4 together was a 100% lock.
Another advantage is that G Joseph Woll showed during the playoffs he is ready to graduate to the NHL, and at $766,667 per year he gives Treliving more help in balancing the books.
The betting there is that the new GM signs free agent goalie Ilya Samsonov to a new contract and gets creative with another team in a trade to dump injury-prone Matt Murray and his $4.7 million salary.
Leafs Dominate Ontario Sports Betting
According to Proline, as of Tuesday, eight of the top 10 NHL betting events of the season involved the Leafs, and all were playoff games. Leafs games represented 13% of all regular season betting and 25% of playoff betting.
Other than NFL and the FIFA World Cup, which are historically popular leagues/events for all bettors, the top event for Proline since the beginning of September was Toronto’s series-clinching Game 6 victory against the Lightning. And 22% of customers bet on the Leafs as Stanley Cup winners, which is still the highest percentage even after the team was eliminated by the Florida Panthers in the second round.
So interest in Leafs betting runs deep in Ontario, a market where both sports betting and Toronto online casinos have had a successful launch in the year-plus that they have been active.