Mark Giordano is what everyone thought Nick Foligno was going to be for the Leafs last year

Published April 17, 2022 at 11:22
BY BEN HODGSON
As a Leafs fan, one thing I've grown to appreciate about Kyle Dubas is his willingness to admit his mistakes and adjust his strategy on the fly. Last season, Kyle Dubas made a mistake at the trade deadline. The Nick Foligno deal looked good enough on paper - a physical veteran who could play up and down the lineup. The price was high, but it needed to be to beat out the other interested parties. His dad was a not only a Leaf, but a playoff hero for the blue and white. It seemed like a match made in heaven. Unfortunately, the deal turned out to be a disaster.

Dubas sent a first round pick and a 4th rounder to Columbus, then a 4th to San Jose in the deal. Those 3 picks got the Leafs Nick Foligno at a quarter of his usual cap hit and Stefan Noesen, but zero goals in 7 playoff games and zero goals in the regular season. Now, this isn't Foligno's fault per se.. by all accounts, Foligno put his heart and soul into being a Leaf. It was a bad back that just wouldn't heal that did him in.

Many fans were upset at Dubas, who after spending so much to acquire Foligno, let him walk to Boston of all teams when free agency opened up. The truth is it was the smart play, as there was no guarantee that Foligno's back was any better, and for 2 years at $3.8 million per season, it was much better to cut bait and move on. Dubas used that $3.8 million to sign Petr Mrazek, who showed flashes on competence but ultimately hasn't worked out. Still, the Leafs needed a goalie, and thanks to those savings, he was able to find one.

This year at the trade deadline, Dubas knew ahead of time what he needed. After seeing Jake Muzzin struggle with injury in 2 straight playoffs then again this season, a left defenseman who could fill those shoes was needed as insurance. This year, Dubas pulled it off without giving up a first round pick, instead sending 2 second round picks and a third to Seattle for 2019 Norris Trophy winner Mark Giordano and Colin Blackwell.


To see just how much better this year's deadline was than last, one doesn't need to dig too deep. Since joining the Leafs, Mark Giordano and Colin Blackwell have each scored 2 goals. Since signing with the Bruins before the start of the season, Nick Foligno has.. wait for it.. 2 goals. Regardless of how the money was spent after letting Foligno walk, Dubas made the right move in letting the Bruins take the 34-year-old veteran. Giordano has also been a huge help on the blue line, and beyond that, he's helped to elevate Timothy Liljegren's game to a point we haven't seen before.

Is Kyle Dubas a perfect GM? No, but his willingness to try something, see the result, learn and adapt from it are a refreshing change from previous administrations who seemed to love nothing more than to jam a square peg into a round hole. This year's trade deadline was a homerun s far, and it was a homerun because Dubas learned from his mistakes. Now we just have to wait and see if the Leafs can turn their good fortunes into playoff success, because as we all know, that's the real measuring stick here.

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