A conspiracy theory why the Karlsson/Leafs trade never happened; maybe it had nothing to do with the salary cap

Ryan Smitheram
August 8, 2023  (2:10 PM)

On Sunday, Kyle Dubas pulled off a blockbuster deal that saw him acquire Erik Karlsson from the San Jose Sharks in a three-team trade. In acquiring Karlsson, Dubas also managed to save the Pens $3M in cap space with the players he moved to the Sharks and Habs. Following the trade, Dubas admitted that he had been after Karlsson for quite a while, dating back to his time as GM of the Leafs.

"It was a fairly lengthy process that goes back to my previous employment," said Dubas. Eye-brows were raised when Dubas said he had been trying to acquire Karlsson during his time with the Leafs and one has to wonder if Dubas had a trade completed to acquire him, but the idea was shot down by Brendan Shanahan.
We know that Dubas was seeking more control in his last minute counter-offer to the Leafs before Shanahan announced he wouldn't be returning as Leafs GM. Now, in moving to Pittsburgh, he exercised his full autonomy to acquire the reigning Norris Trophy winner. Many were wondering how the Penguins were going to be able to fit Karlsson under the cap, but that was no issue for them and if it was no issue for the Pens, then I'm sure that Dubas and Brandon Pridham would have found a way to fit Karlsson in under the cap in Toronto as well.
Would the Leafs have paid a higher price? It is likely, mostly because I'm sure the salary retention would have been higher and maybe that's when Shanahan flexed his authority on Dubas and shot the deal down. Perhaps, the deal included a member of the core four - someone like William Nylander, who Shanahan has praised constantly during his time in Toronto. Perhaps a deal for Karlsson would have included a top prospect like Matthew Knies.
Whatever the reason that the Leafs were unable to get a deal done for Karlsson, we may never know. But we do know that Dubas had his eye on a player or players that Shanahan and the board at MLSE disagreed with. Otherwise, why would more autonomy be one Dubas' list of priorities in his proposal to the Leafs as negotiations wore on? There's no evidence to suggest that it was indeed a Karlsson trade that MLSE came in and blocked. It may have been a Patrick Kane trade. If may have been another deal entirely. This is simply a theory - and one that makes a great deal of sense, given Karlsson's age and the term remaining on his current deal.
Do you think it was MLSE and/or Brendan Shanahan blocking a trade that caused Dubas to request more autonomy and control over roster decisions that led to his eventual dismissal? Cast your vote in the poll below!
8 AOUT   |   118 ANSWERS
A conspiracy theory why the Karlsson/Leafs trade never happened; maybe it had nothing to do with the salary cap

Do you think MLSE and Shanahan blocked and Erik Karlsson trade in Toronto, which caused Dubas to request more control over trade acquisitions, leading to him eventually being fired?

Yes, it seems realistic6454.2 %
Maybe it was another trade, not Karlsson1512.7 %
No, I don't think a blocked trade caused the rift2722.9 %
See results1210.2 %
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