The Toronto Maple Leafs had to make a very difficult decision to make earlier this summer, a decision that appears to have come primarily from Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan.
Shanahan was effectively forced to appoint a new general manager in Toronto when it became clear that the Maple Leafs would not be able to hang on to both general manager prospects Kyle Dubas and Mark Hunter in their current roles. There was a strong belief that both men were sought after for high profile in rival National Hockey League organizations and when the Colorado Avalanche came calling for Kyle Dubas the Maple Leafs were forced to shut that down by giving Dubas a substantial raise. Unsurprisingly Shanahan would go on to eventually pick Dubas as the successor to general manager Lou Lamoriello and although the decision was the one that insiders had expected for quite some time it still came with some serious consequences.
The Leafs quickly lost both Lamoriello, who was supposed to stay on in a role as a special adviser, as well as Hunter who is believed to be a shoe in as an NHL general manager one day given his extreme level of success in minor hockey. Both men are considered to be excellent evaluators of talent in their own right and with the 2018 NHL Entry Draft coming just days after this decision from the Maple Leafs organization it left the Leafs a little shorthanded.
Things quickly became much more concerning for fans in Toronto though when Lou Lamoriello suddenly announced that he would be joining the New York Islanders as their new president and general manager, especially when it was revealed that Lamoriello had conversations with then Islanders captain John Tavares while still believed to be under contract with the Maple Leafs. The Leafs would eventually land Tavares so those concerns were quickly washed away but it could have been a very different story indeed if Lamoriello had managed to retain the services of his organizations former star forward. It seems now however that Lamoriello is done surprising the Maple Leafs, Hunter has a few surprises of his own to share.
There has been no official announcement at this time but according to a report from New York Islanders insider Arthur Staple there are now rumors around the National Hockey League that suggest that Hunter may be about to join his former colleague in Lamoriello as a member of the Islanders organization. That would certainly be a huge addition for Lamoriello although given the fact that he has already appointed himself as general manager I have to wonder what role Hunter would take on in that team. Perhaps the aging Lamoriello has ensured Hunter that he will be ceding his position as GM sooner rather than later and that may be how he convinces him to come to Long Island.
Hunter left the Leafs several weeks ago but because of the nature of his contract he was precluded from joining a rival NHL team until this past Sunday. Hunter is a draft specialist and it seems reasonable to assume that Hunter sharing that information he had gathered with the Leafs with rival teams would be a concern for the Leafs, and that this was the reason behind the conditions of his contract.
This would drastically bolster the Islanders front office to be sure, the question now though is how long will it take them to turn their roster around after losing Tavares.
Photo Credit: Dave Chidley/The Canadian Press