Maple Leafs coach Keefe, GM Dubas to return next season

They received a vote of confidence despite Toronto losing its first Stanley Cup Playoff series for a sixth straight season. Shanahan also said he doesn’t expect any major roster changes in the off-season.

“I think it’s important to say that I see both (Keefe and Dubas) as extremely important in taking us to the next level,” Shanahan said.

“We share everyone’s frustration at not getting the job done. As we look forward to next year, there will certainly always be new faces. That being said, we’re not going to make any changes just to say we’ve made changes.”

The Maple Leafs, who set their season-record 54 wins and 115 points, lost a 3-2 lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference best-of-7 first round and lost in Game 6 of overtime with 4-3 on Thursday and 2-1 in Game 7 on Saturday.

“I think the regular season and the playoff series, the way the group played, was different,” Dubas said. “I didn’t feel like we were chasing each other in games 5, 6 or 7 or responding to another team dictating the course of the game for us. I didn’t feel like we were passive in previous years. “

Keefe, who has a contract through the 2023-24 season, is 116-50-19 in 185 regular-season games since replacing Mike Babcock as manager in the 2019-20 season. He’s 8-11 in the playoffs.

Dubas was named GM after the 2017–18 season.

In the last nine chances to eliminate an opponent, Toronto is 9-0 in Game 7 of the 2018 first round against the Boston Bruins. Still, Keefe expressed his confidence in core players, which include forwards Austin Matthews, John Tavares, Mitchell Marner and William Nylanderand defender Morgan Rielly and Jake Muzzin.

“I have and continue to have great faith in our group and the effort that they have given us,” Keefe said. “In particular, I felt like we really stepped up and leaned in and pushed at key moments and weren’t afraid of losing. We were aggressive in our approach and the mindset of our team that we built during the regular season came into play in the playoffs against a very strong opponent. We didn’t get the results we wanted and that hurts, mostly because of the belief we have in the group and what we’ve achieved together. I think progress has been made, even if it’s hard to feel the way, because here we are talking again at the end of the first lap.”

Dubas said the failure was a test of the entire organization’s determination to continue on the course it had taken.

“It’s easy to say that at the beginning of the year you believe that you believe when you’ve won,” Dubas said, “but I think in those moments where you haven’t reached the potential that everyone knows about that you have it and that you know it is especially inwardly that you have it, then true faith is measured. I believe in the group.”

However, as with any off-season, there will be changes. The challenge for Dubas will be to improve the team despite limited space under the NHL salary cap.

“We have to repeat the way we worked last summer in most respects,” said Dubas, “and go out there and be able to find players who are able to expand our group and do that not at very high cost but by being able to seize the opportunity and thrive.”

The most notable outstanding free agent for the Maple Leafs is the goaltender Jack Campell, who is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on July 13th. He was 31-9-6 with a 2.64 clean sheet average, .914 save percentage and five shutouts in 49 regular-season games (47 starts) this season, his first full season as the No. 1 goaltender and becoming his first NHL All-Star Game Named. The 30-year-old was 3-4 with a 3.15 GAA and a .897 save percentage and started in all seven playoff games.

“Winning here means everything to me,” said Campbell. “I love the city of Toronto, I love the fans, the support and my teammates are absolutely amazing, the coaching staff, everything.”

Dubas said he will begin talks with Campbell’s representatives shortly. The goalkeeper said he would leave the negotiations to his agents but was referring to his return.

“I can’t wait to see what we as a team and I can do personally next season,” said Campbell.

defender Markus Giordano, acquired in a trade with the Seattle Kraken on March 20th, is also eligible to become an unrestricted free agent. The 38-year-old had 12 points (two goals, 10 assists) in 20 regular-season games and two assists in seven playoff games.

“Everyone knows I’m from Toronto, I love it here, I loved my time here,” Giordano said. “I’ll be speaking to my agent in the next week and going from there. I don’t think it’s a secret that I enjoyed my time here.

Forward Jason Spezza, who signed his third straight year with the Maple Leafs, is another outstanding unrestricted free agent. The 38-year-old had 25 points (12 goals, 13 assists) in 71 regular-season games but was sometimes a healthy scratch late in the season and in the first two games of the playoffs. He had two assists in five playoff games.

Spezza said he hadn’t thought about his future.

“I love the game, I’ve always maintained that if I can bring meaning to the group, if I can contribute every night, I want to play,” Spezza said. “So there are conversations that need to be had with me and management and the coaches but this is the only place I would play.”

Though the Maple Leafs once again failed to win a playoff series, Matthews, who set a Toronto record with 60 regular-season goals, said players feel they will eventually find a way to break through.

“Yes, we do,” Matthews said. “I think it. Everyone in this room believes it. I don’t think we can really bother with the opinions of others, the media, fans and what other people think. I know deep in this room we all believe in each other. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but I don’t think that belief has ever faltered.

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