Kyle Dubas Can’t Stop and Won’t Stop Making Trades: Initial Analysis as Leafs get McCabe and Lafferty

I don’t think anyone with a decent idea of how the Toronto Maple Leafs operate thought they were done making big moves after acquiring Ryan O’Reilly and Noel Accairi. However, there is a difference between thinking it and it actually happening, and clearly, the Leafs were nowhere close to being done. Toronto has once again gone out and gotten deeper with players that fit the team’s identity and fill the few weaknesses that they may have. Here are the full trade details

Kyle Dubas has rightfully put every ounce of faith he has in his body into this team with the two deals he has made up to this point. I was not the biggest advocate regarding trading for Jake McCabe at the start of the month. However, that hesitation was only there because I felt the Leafs needed to prioritize their middle six over adding to an already stout defence. Now that Dubas has already addressed the scoring depth (which he might not be done with), I have no issue with him trading for someone as dependable as McCabe to solidify the top four and grabbing Lafferty as well to give the fourth line another buzzer. Additionally, Jake McCabe has two more years left on his contract after this year, and he will only cost the Leafs $2 million in cap space thanks to the Blackhawks retaining 50% of his deal. With Justin Holl’s deal expiring in the summer and T.J. Brodie potentially becoming a little too expensive, the Leafs mustn’t have too many holes to fill in their top six. Especially while they have to try and re-sign Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner. Now the team has Mark Giordano, Morgan Reilly, Rasmus Sandin, Timothy Liljegren, Connor Timmins, and Jake McCabe tied up until the end of 2024 for a combined $14.1 million. That’s almost one Auston Matthews!

Okay, back to how this gives the Leafs a better chance to win the Stanley Cup in 2023. McCabe has been an excellent defenceman statistically and in the eye test on the 2022/23 Chicago Blackhawks. That alone makes him unique because the Blackhawks fucking stink! First, let’s look at the stats:

Blue is good! Image courtesy of

McCabe has 2 goals and 18 assists this year. When the former Sabre was ON the ice for the Blackhawks, they had an expected goal share of 46% and gave up just 2.75 expected goals against per 60 minutes. When he was OFF the ice, Chicago was considerably worse, with an xG% share of 38% and an xGA per 60 of 3.1. They controlled 8% less of the play and gave up several more high-danger chances when McCabe was on the bench. He made a great pair with partner Caleb Jones. The two had a 57% xG share, which was far and away the best for any Blackhawk defence pairing. You’d have to imagine his stats only improve playing with a team that has as many elite players as the Leafs do.

When it comes to the profile of the player that Jake McCabe is, I again reiterate that he is precisely the type which the Leafs have come to love with Dubas and Shannahan in the front office. He is a strong skater who loves to move the puck crisply and quickly, can defend competently with his stick or body, and does not get pushed around. He can play on either side despite being left-handed, which is crucial for Toronto with their number of lefties. He is not unlike someone like Dimitry Orlov, although McCabe is less offensively talented and more defensively responsible. The Leafs now have another guy that can eat 20 minutes a game without feeling worried that he will make a boneheaded turnover and continuously get hemmed in his own end. It is that simple. Also, he has the goddamn PASSION.

The price may seem like a lot for someone that doesn’t have a lot of pedigree, but make no mistake about how good McCabe is. I don’t care about giving up draft picks when the Leafs’ three best players are all under 27. They still have not given up a single one of their best prospects, and I think that cannot be understated. Draft picks are empty faces with the possibility of potential. You at least have an idea of the prospects already in your system; you know what they’re about. I will always prefer picks over prospects when you are trying to win now. Also, Dubas said he doesn’t allow what other teams do to affect his dealings, but you cannot ignore the plethora of moves that have been made by teams in the East. Everyone is loading up. You do not want to be the one left holding nothing but a bag of shit.

I don’t know as much about Sam Lafferty, but he is a speedy player, which is never bad. Here is a great, in-depth report on Lafferty by an even better Twitter follow. Check it out!

I still don’t think Dubas is done adding to this team yet. He certainly didn’t act like he was in his press conference today (which was great).

In an ideal world, the Leafs would add a scorer to their second or third line, but I think they hope Matthew Knies will do that (I surely do). Given the Leafs’ cap situation, Dubas has no choice. The team has cap space only because Matt Murray is on long-term injury reserve. Once he is back (which is soon), they will be over the cap limit. This means that someone will have to come off the current roster. All signs point to Alex Kerfoot, which makes sense considering his sizeable cap hit ($3.5 mil) and lack of production (just 5 goals this year). Combine that with Knies being on his way to save the third line and Sam Lafferty taking up a spot on the fourth line. There is not much room for Kerfoot. He is a casualty of doing business in the big leagues!

It is an exciting time to be a Leaf fan, and I genuinely do not have enough good things to say about Kyle Dubas, so I will save that for a lengthier article at a later date.

All stats are at even strength and are courtesy of and

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