Toronto Maple Leafs: Lou Lamoriello is a hard act to follow
Leafs president Brendan Shanahan recently announced that Lamoriello would not be returning as GM next season.
(Photo credit: REUTERS/Greg M. Cooper)
We can speculate all day about who will be the next general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Kyle Dubas? Mark Hunter? Chuck Fletcher? Why not even throw Mike Babcock into the equation?
Whoever takes the top job will follow a tough act as Lamoriello has turned Toronto from lottery fodder into a bona fide contender.
A team that is more than just Auston Matthews
(Photo credit: REUTERS/John E. Sokolowski)
Of course, Lamoriello did not turn Toronto around on his own. Shanahan, Babcock, draft luck and time were all on the Leafs side as they tried to create a winning culture not seen in Toronto for a very long time.
While we can attribute the draft lottery win in 2016 and the subsequent pick of franchise player Auston Matthews as the turning point for this team, it is important to note that Toronto were still on the road to success before that pick.
Mitch Marner, William Nylander, Andreas Johnsson, Travis Dermott, Zach Hyman, Connor Brown, Freddie Andersen, Kasperi Kapanen and Nikita Zaitsev have all been important parts of this team that were integrated into the roster during Lamoriello’s time with the Buds.
So yes, Matthews has been huge for them, but in all honesty, even without him, Toronto would still be a playoff time.
In New Jersey, Lamoriello oversaw three Stanley Cup victories as he built a perennial playoff contender that at one stage made the playoffs 21 times in 23 years.
He had players like Martin Brodeur, Scott Niedermayer, Scott Stevens, Patrik Elias, Ilya Kovalchuk and countless others. The Devils were winners.
In three years with Toronto, Lamoriello has made the Buds a legitimate contender. A young squad with a bright future. Oh, and they win a lot too.
This past season the club broke their franchise record for wins and made the postseason for two straight seasons since their six straight playoff seasons from 1998 to 2004.
Lamoriello deserves huge credit for bringing that winning culture with him to Toronto.
Tough act to follow
For the successor to Lamoriello, he or she will need to hit the ground running. More than that, this is a huge offseason for the Buds where they need to make some changes due to so many players leaving the club.
Whoever takes over will have to fill the void left by James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak, Leo Komarov and Tomas Plekanec who have all been big parts of this team and will leave as UFA’s.
Then there is the question of defence which drastically needs improving if this team wants to be a serious contender.
Oh, and do not forget that the big three Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander all need their contracts renewed within the next year.
That is quite a checklist of important jobs to do over the summer and if the new GM fails on one of them, then he will have his head on a chopping board before long.
In the eyes of Toronto fans, the rebuild is now over. This team is ready to contend, but it needs a GM with nerve to make the right moves and get them there.
Who do you think will succeed Lamoriello in Toronto? Let us know in the comments section below.