Pre-draft trade talk 'heating up': Leafs' Shanahan
Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan. (Craig Robertson/Toronto Sun)
Brendan Shanahan does not believe the three-headed Maple Leafs general manager setup that currently exists will hurt the team when making pre-draft trades.
"It's not as complicated as it sounds," Shanahan said Monday, at A Night For Change, a charity event for the Canadian Safe School Network and the battle against homophobic bullying.
"Myself (and co-interim GMs) Mark Hunter and Kyle Dubas, we talk every day. If people want to talk to us, they know where to find us."
Hunter and Dubas, relatively new at their NHL jobs, made contacts with both their former OHL cronies and other NHL execs at the scouting combine in Buffalo last week. New head coach Mike Babcock and new director of player development Scott Pellerin are also consulted.
"People are talking to us and 'heating up' is probably a good way to describe it," Shanahan said of clubs approaching the Leafs. "(Other teams) will reach out to whomever among us they're most comfortable with."
The Leafs aren't going to name a GM before the June 26-27 draft in Florida and there is speculation the post will remain vacant for as long as it takes Shanahan to find the right man to fulfil his vision.
He might eventually just give the post to one of his two underlings, head coach Babcock or perhaps just add the position to his president's title.
Both Dubas and Hunter spoke to the media in Buffalo about the possibility of moving from the fourth overall pick in the draft, likely downward with the guarantee the Leafs can still get the prospect they want and gain either a player asset or another pick.
While the Leafs likely favour Erie centre Dylan Strome at present, he might not be available if Arizona takes him third. Certainly defenceman Noah Hanifin is a suitable choice, but if a team wants the latter really badly and the Leafs can get forwards Mitch Marner or the quickly rising Lawson Crouse, a deal could be made.
If they hold the pick, Shanahan said he prefers the tried and true method. "Best player available."
Shanahan confirmed the Leafs will not have to give up their third-round compensatory pick for signing Babcock away from the Red Wings until next year at the earliest and the 2017 draft at the latest.
"We're hoping it's a later first-round pick," quipped Shanahan, meaning a better Leaf finish down the road will lessen the impact of losing the selection.
The Leafs are trying to hang on to as many picks as possible in their rebuilding stage.
"We've been watching (potential picks) all year," Shanahan said. "Since the season ended, we've had our scouting meetings in Las Vegas several weeks ago and some video meetings. We're just going over where we are and what we've learned. We'll continue right up until the night before the draft."
A GOOD CAUSE
Shanahan was joined for Monday's fundraiser by Calgary Flames president Brian Burke, Wayne Gretzky and Paul Coffey at the Toronto home of Mike Wilson, who has world's most comprehensive private collection of Leafs memorabilia.
"Canadian Safe Schools does a wonderful job," Burke said. "This is about saving lives across Canada, it's important work. No child should be afraid to get off a school bus, to change for gym class or just go down the hallway. It's a 24-7 (awareness) now."
The other component of Safe Schools is the elimination of LGBTQ bullying, a cause Burke embraced after his son Brendan came out as gay before his tragic death in a 2010 car accident.
"The climate continues to improve for gay men, who have a harder road than gay women," Burke said. " Michael Sam (of the Montreal Alouettes) has opened a lot of doors. It gets better every year, we just have to keep working at it."
More than $100,000 was raised on Monday to discourage bullying in general.
Gretzky on how Connor McDavid will fare in his old home in Edmonton: "He's going to absolutely love it. People in Edmonton are going to treat him with kid gloves and be patient. I think Connor's the best player we've seen since ( Mario) Lemieux and ( Sidney) Crosby and I think he's going to have a great career in Edmonton." ... Gretzky told the crowd if there's one NHL rule he would change it's when the faceoff moves to the offending team's zone after a minor penalty. He thinks it hinders the great defencemen from showing their true ability on a breakout ...The Great One also defended the caliber of today's NHL as a brand of entertainment. "Everyone says, 'Who will replace Lemieux and Orr?', but these (new stars) will come along. I like today's game." ... Burke repeated his belief that a European Division in the NHL would fly someday. "There are 90 million people in Germany, as many people as in Ohio and Indiana. We could put teams there that do well, but we need (20,000-seat buildings) that generate the economics."