The Maple Leafs biggest offseason obstacle is not getting enough attention

The Toronto Maple Leafs are ready to shake things up after yet another early Stanley Cup Playoff exit, but will they be able to make real change?
Toronto Maple Leafs v Boston Bruins - Game Seven
Toronto Maple Leafs v Boston Bruins - Game Seven / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages

The Toronto Maple Leafs are looking to make a change. After another Round 1 defeat at the hands of the Boston Bruins, the Leafs are going in a new direction. Toronto got the ball rolling this past week making a coaching change, but management has hinted at more to come.

The Toronto Maple Leafs biggest obstacle this offseason is an issue they created.

For yet another year, the core four came up short. Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Mitch Marner and Alex Nylander failed to get things done. The Leafs were a goal away from advancing to the next round, but a goal away is not going to get things done anymore.

Toronto Maple Leafs management held a press conference on May 10 after the dismissal of head coach Sheldon Keefe. Maple Leafs President Brendan Shanahan acknowledged that the team's playoff results have not been good enough during his tenure.

"Our playoff results have not been good enough. That’s on me,” Shanahan said at the press conference. “The results that we’ve had in the playoffs, our players know, I know, we know, they’re unacceptable. They’re unacceptable to our fans and those who support the Maple Leafs.”

The Toronto Maple Leafs best finish under Shanahan was an appearance in the second round in 2023. After beating the Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto was toppled over by the Florida Panthers in five games, ending their postseason with just five wins.

While some could argue correctly that change could have been warrented at any point in the past few years, there is no denying that change will be made this offseason. Leafs GM Brad Treliving spoke on that need for change during the press conference.

"When you go through a season as we have, everything must be on the table," said Treliving. "Everything needs to be looked at. Everything needs to be considered.”

While few would argue change needs to be made, actually changing this roster is not going to be easy. The core group of players in Toronto all have no-movement clauses (NMC). Matthews, Tavares, Marner, Nylander and Rielly all have NMCs. So while trading some of that group might be the plan for the organization, the players have a say too.

When an organization hands out a no-movement clause, they have to live with the consequences of that decision. Players have the right to deny waiving their clause, and in this case even if they agree to a move they might only agree to a move to one or two teams, limiting the return for Toronto.

The biggest obstacle this offseason will definitely be the amount of no-movement and no-trade clauses in the organization blocking real change from happening. While the Leafs might be able to get someone like Marner to waive his no move, that doesn't mean he is going to let them auction him off to 31 teams, he still gets to control where he goes.