Grading Brad Treliving's decisions in his first summer as Leafs GM

Mike Armenti
July 29, 2023  (10:32)

The Leafs have been one of the busier teams this summer under the tutelage of new GM Brad Treliving. We have seen a number of players from last year's club walk as free agents and we have seen a handful of UFA and RFA signings, so let's take a look at a few of them and assign them a grade.

Tyler Bertuzzi: A
The Leafs took a pretty big swing this summer on one of the top free agent options in Bertuzzi. A feisty winger with a 30-goal season under his belt, Bertuzzi is going to give the opposition fits each and every night, creating chaos in front of the net, mixing it up in the post-whistle scrums and also hurting them on the score sheet. The only thing that prevents this move from being an A+ is Bertuzzi's lengthy injury history. Thankfully, Treliving limited his commitment to the player with a 1-year term.
Max Domi: A+
Treliving hit a home run here, at least in my mind. Not only is there a ton of nostalgia value in having a Domi back in a Leafs jersey, but Max provides just about everything the Leafs could want in a middle six player - and he comes in at a reasonable $3M cap hit. Domi is a solid playmaker, who can play both wing and center and he plays with a chip on his shoulder, which the Leafs and the fans alike will enjoy. He's not his dad, so I don't think we should expect him to rack up 15 fighting majors this season, but he has a short fuse and will drop the gloves when the situation calls for it.
John Klingberg: B-
Many weren't too keen on this signing, largely due to the $4.15M cap hit, but Klingberg may end up being one of the more impactful signings for Treliving this summer. Klingberg is a powerplay specialist, but he also excels at something that Justin Holl didn't - clearing the defensive zone effectively and efficiently. Klingberg is a player who can give the Leafs something they have lacked in recent seasons; a defender who isn't afraid to jump up in the play and create some offense. He's also great at walking the line in the offensive zone and opening up shooting lanes.
Ryan Reaves: C+
I'm not as low on this move as others seem to be. Reaves was given 3 years by Treliving, which is the only reason why I didn't give him a B here. Reaves is not on this team to score goals or create any offense. He's here to punch people in the face, try to put someone through the glass and to help improve the locker room chemistry and keep the team tightly bonded - a good "glue guy", as they say.
Holding firm on Ilya Samsonov: B
In years past, we saw ex-GM Kyle Dubas bend to the will of his players. This time around, Treliving didn't give an inch when it came to RFA negotiations with Samsonov. The only reason this one isn't an A grade is because Treliving couldn't find a way to get Samsonov inked to a multi-year deal, avoiding arbitration.
Showing Justin Holl and Alexander Kerfoot the door: A+
These were arguably the two best things to happen to Leaf fans in recent years. The Leafs' undying loyalty to Holl and Kerfoot is over. Holl is now in Detroit on a multi-year deal Kerfoot will play next season in Arizona. Running it back with the core is one thing, but running it back with the entire supporting cast as well would have been another thing entirely. Kudos to Treliving for taking the pulse of Leafs Nation and understanding that these two absolutely could not be back next season if he wanted to roll back the same core of Matthews, Marner, Tavares and Nylander.
David Kampf's 4-year deal: C-
This one was a head-scratcher. Yes, Kampf is a key penalty killer for the club, a strong faceoff man, an excellent checker and has a relentless motor, but 4 years at $2.4M seems a bit too long and about $500K too rich. That said, Kampf has played in every game over the last 4 consecutive seasons, so he's durable.
Matt Murray to LTIR: A+
This one is the Mona Lisa of Treliving's moves thus far. Treliving not moving Murray and attaching a significant sweetener already puts him a few steps up on Kyle Dubas, who dealt a number of solid assets to get out of contracts during his time as Leafs GM. Not only did Treliving not have to give up any sweeteners, he also didn't get stuck with any dead salary from a buyout this year and next. Masterful work here to see this one coming and letting it all play out the way it did.
All in all, Treliving has done well thus far as Leafs GM. For his total body of work thus far, I'd give him a solid B-, which is perfectly fine for a Leafs GM. He would have gotten a B+ if he had managed to get Matthews and Nylander within the first month of free agency. I'd have even bumped him up to an A if those deals were both wins for the Leafs, but here we are.
29 JUILLET   |   361 ANSWERS
Grading Brad Treliving's decisions in his first summer as Leafs GM

What grade would you give Brad Treliving for the moves he's made this summer as Leafs GM?

A+3810.5 %
A-B23164 %
C7119.7 %
D or lower215.8 %
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