Brendan Shanahan made his first major mark on the Toronto Maple Leafs roster on Wednesday, opening the door to the long-term, sometimes painful rebuild he knows the franchise needs to go through in order to once again become relevant in the chase for the Stanley Cup.
After spending months wielding his power mostly to build Toronto's front office and coaching staff, Shanahan, the Maple Leafs president, went to work on his roster rebuild by trading forward Phil Kessel to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
In trading Kessel, Shanahan opened $6.8 million in salary-cap space for the next seven seasons. The Maple Leafs retained 15 percent ($1.2 million) of Kessel's $8 million cap charge.
Kessel was the best trade chip Shanahan could play to start his rebuild if Toronto does not want to be in a win-now frame of mind, even after bringing in Mike Babcock as coach.