Bob McKenzie had an interesting segment this evening on TSN Drive ruminating on how the Maple Leafs are going about their rebuild:
“I think the Leafs want to be active. They want to try to trade Phil Kessel. I don’t get a strong sense that Dion Phaneuf’s name is out there in play a lot.”
Hey listen, if the Colorado Avalanche are trading Ryan O’Reilly, you know the Toronto Maple Leafs are going to want to be in on something like that; get themselves a significant center that can come in and play both ends of the ice for Mike Babcock.
All that said, the other thing is, I just get this feeling that — as much as we talk about the Toronto Maple Leafs stripping it down and rebuilding and all that – I don’t know whether Brendan Shanahan offered up something that we misinterpreted, but I get the feeling they’re going to be aggressive in the free agent market. I don’t think this is going to be – maybe that was obvious when they got Mike Babcock as coach – but I just don’t get the feeling the Toronto Maple Leafs are going to say, “oh, you know what, we aren’t going to be very good for a few years, we’re just going to go really young and cheap, and we’ll just let nature take its course and have all these draft picks.” There’s no question they want to offload some of their core players, and they want draft picks and they want young players, but I think they are also big-game hunting on the trade market and I also think they’re going to be aggressive in the free agent market.
As I said, we got to be careful here because we’re trying to characterize something and somebody will interpret it as, “they’re not going to do it the right way,” and all of a sudden you’ve got people going, “no, we’re getting young players, we’ll develop them,” and all that stuff. If you go the other way, and say they’re going the opposite way, nobody likes to be branded or stereotyped as one or the other. I just think that’s the open ended thing for the Toronto Maple Leafs. I think that all possibilities remain on the table, and it’s not as simple as a lot of us made it out to be when Brendan Shanahan and Mike Babcock talked about pain and suffering and doing things the right way. I guess there’s bound to be some mixed signals. If the Toronto Maple Leafs decide to get heavily into the free agent market for players in their mid to late 20s, it will be very interesting what that message is. How competitive do they expect to be, and how long is this going to take? It’s fascinating for me just to see how the dominoes are dropping for the Toronto Maple Leafs.”