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The bigger joke, Rielly, and an ex-Leaf retires

June 23, 2021, 3:44 PM ET [288 Comments]
Mike Augello
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When the NHL released the results of the Jim Gregory GM of the Year Award on Tuesday, the fact that Kyle Dubas received a first place vote after his club lost in the first round to the Montreal Canadiens might be considered quite humorous by members of the Leafs fan base critical of the Toronto Maple Leafs GM, but the bigger joke is that his predecessor Lou Lamoriello won the honor for the second year in a row.

While there is no questioning the resume of the Hall of Famer, the win appears to be like giving Al Pacino a Best Actor Oscar for “Scent of a Woman” after losing out for “Godfather II”, “And Justice For All” or “Dog Day Afternoon”. Lamoriello made two trades of significance in 2020-21 (unless you consider getting former Leaf Dmytro Timashov for future considerations an impact move), swapping defenseman Devon Toews to Colorado for a pair of second round picks and the deadline acquisition of Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac from the New Jersey Devils for A.J. Greer and Mason Jobst, a 2021 first-round pick in the 2022 fourth-round pick.

Palmieri and Zajac have been key contributors to the Isles playoff run, but even after veteran Johnny Boychuk retired with two years left on his contract, Lamoriello had to virtually give away a quality young defenseman in Toews to become cap compliant.

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Former Leafs defenseman Carl Gunnarsson announced his retirement on Wednesday, ending a 12-year NHL career. Gunnarsson, 34, started with the Leafs in 2009 after being selected 194th overall in 2007 and played 304 of his 629 career games in Blue and White before being traded in June 2014 to St. Louis for defenseman Roman Polak.

Gunnarsson won a Stanley Cup with the Blues in 2019 and scored an overtime goal in Game 2 of the Cup Final vs. Boston.

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Following up on yesterday’s column about Morgan Rielly’s future with the Leafs, the Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reports that Toronto and Rielly agent J.P. Barry spoke after the season about the possibility of a contract extension, but that the real discussions may have to wait until after the Leafs make their moves in free agency and the trade market late next month.

LeBrun believes that the Leafs absolutely want to try and extend Rielly this offseason with one year left on his deal, but a lot may depend on him taking a less to remain in Toronto. But the dollar figures have to make sense. The 27-year-old blueliner is currently making $5 million a year and it is possible that a long term deal could exceed the $6.5 million AAV that UFA defenseman Torey Krug signed with St. Louis last October.




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