The Toronto Maple Leafs aren't off to the worst start of this season compared to other clubs stumbling from the gate. Nevertheless, the combination of their 3-4-1 start and the lingering shock of their first-round exit from the 2021 playoffs has sparked grumbling in Leafs Nation.
Daily Faceoff's Frank Seravalli discussed the issue on Monday during an appearance on Sportsnet 590. He felt management faces three options: fire head coach Sheldon Keefe, make a huge trade involving a star player like Mitch Marner, or “triple down” on their present roster and ride it out.
Seravalli expects they'll take the latter route. He doesn't believe they'll fire Keefe after he signed a two-year contract extension earlier this month. He also doesn't see them being at the point where they would attempt to move someone like Marner.
During the off-season, Leafs president Brendan Shanahan and GM Kyle Dubas dismissed the notion of trading Marner, Auston Matthews, John Tavares or William Nylander. Their signing of Morgan Rielly to an eight-year, $60-million extension indicates their ongoing belief in their roster core.
The Leafs still have plenty of time to reverse their fortunes and rise up this season's standings. If their struggles persist, however, perhaps they'll consider a shake-up trade later in the season.
Moving a high-salaried forward like Matthews ($11.64 million through 2023-24), Tavares ($11 million through 2024-25, no-movement clause) or Marner ($10.9 million through '24-'25) would be very difficult during this season with most teams carrying limited cap space. Nylander, who carries a $6.9 million cap hit through '23-'24, would be a more affordable option but no less easier to move in-season.