Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan spoke to the media on Thursday ahead of the 2015 NHL Draft. Shanahan addressed team trade speculation, the draft and more in his availability. Here's what he had to say...
How active have trade talks been and how aggressive are you being?
It has been active, obviously. Not just with us but with all teams. We're getting a lot of calls and I think there is a lot, starting with the last couple of weeks, then in Vegas, now pretty much everybody is arriving in Miami. There is a lot more talk heating up with everybody.
What will it take to move a core player from this roster?
We're in no rush, we just have to have a deal we're comfortable with. We don't have any deadlines, self-imposed deadlines or deadlines by other people. We said what our intentions are - to change some things. We're still running an operation and if we're going to make a change we want to make a deal that we feel is the best we can get.
Will the change happen before camp?
It would be impossible for me to guess. We're getting calls from some guys on some players where we're interested in some of the things we're hearing. Whether they develop into something more real, I couldn't give you an exact timeline.
How has the reaction been when you have discussed the price of Kessel with other teams?
There is interest. And, obviously, not just with him but several of our players, we have some very good players that we value, other teams value and if there's no deal we don't feel that there's a drop dead date for us. We've got a great coach that has the ability to make players better. Like I said at the end of the year, if there are opportunities for us to make changes we would like to do that. Other teams know that and they're making calls. As far as any sort of deadline - and nobody has called us crazy yet, even if these other GMs you're speaking to are telling you something different - I think the conversations have been very good up until now.
Do you think you'll stay at the number four spot or trade up or trade down?
These are all good questions. Whether we're going to trade up or trade down, we wouldn't say definitively one or the other. Right now, we're expecting to pick fourth.
Do you see acquiring further developed prospects from other organizations as a possibility rather than draft picks?
You're always looking to improve. We've said we're certainly interested in draft picks but if that comes also in the form of acquiring younger players from teams that are a little bit older or more advanced in their development and are willing to part with younger players, we would do that too.
Can you characterize the interest in Kessel?
There has been strong interest in not just Phil but several of our players. As I said at the end of the year, for whatever reason the mix hasn't worked out well here but we do have some strong individuals and talented players. I won't say one way or the other who's going to be around and who won't, it's too early for that. With a guy like that who's such a natural goal scorer in the prime of his career - everyone wants a goal scorer. Obviously in a cap world it's not as easy for everyone to fit that player in as it was in the old days but he is a great player and a great goal scorer, a great finisher. There has been a lot of interest.
With the cap constraints is there an expectation that you may have to retain some salary to get a deal done?
That's not something we're talking about right now. I think there's some competition among teams that want him and other players of ours, and we might keep him. We're not committing to anything one way or the other. We have time on our side. We haven't said we're going to build this over night, so we have time on our side. We don't feel we need to do anything kneejerk in order to get something done on some self-imposed or outer-imposed deadline.
How much have you had to think about a real serious offer?
It's mostly up until now been talk and progression of talk. I don't think we've been at a point where there's a definitive offer out there but there have been encouraging conversations that started weeks ago and have grown and continue to grow.
Has Phil been part of any trade discussion with his limited no-trade clause?
You guys keep talking about one guy and until we have a deal there's no point in involving any players. This is not just something going on with us but for all teams and all players. If I'm a player I have one job to do and that's get ready for my next season. Until that happens, we said to all of our players and we said when the season ended there's probably going to be some changes but until there are changes, get ready for the season. Expect to be a Maple Leaf and get ready for the season. If that changes and we have to make a phone call and involve somebody and their agent, when that time comes we'll do it.
If you pick fourth is there somebody you've targeted that you hope is still around?
We think there are a few guys that will be available at that number that we're excited about.
Is there any progress on hiring a GM?
The search is still ongoing for me. I haven't ruled out hiring somebody at a certain point but I also thought it got to a point where I was comfortable with the group we had and it was important to put that on the backburner and really focus with our team and with our group on the draft and free agency and continue some of the discussions I've had around the League with some potential guys.
Do you intend to meet with any free agents in the window that opened today?
Yes... There have been some conversations with general managers but not with any players yet.
Is the pick at 24 in play?
Is it in play? I think they're all in play. We would answer the phone on just about anything. It really, especially at 24, with the pick at four there are a few different options that could occur. With the number 24 pick we're preparing for many options, depending on who goes before us. We have a cluster of players we like in that area and we'll make that decision as we get closer. We're trying to prepare ourselves for different scenarios that could pop up in that moment. If something does change in that moment we're not unprepared whether we want to move up or move back.
Is there a desire to flip that 24th pick and maybe get two second rounders?
It's a possibility, yeah.
Do you get the sense that draft picks are more valuable this year given the depth of the draft?
I think people have all said this is a very deep draft. Any time you get to a draft, whatever year it is, it just becomes such a huge focus. We do like the depth of this draft as people have said.
Is there a scenario where Kessel stays with the organization long term?
That's a good question. I wouldn't rule anything out. I don't think anyone has said that any particular player on this team is done. I think the fact we've come out and said there are going to be some changes and, obviously, when you say that and look around the other 29 teams they look at your best player and most productive player. He has probably garnered the most interest, he's the player that has probably gotten the most phone calls. But we haven't said one way or the other that it's got to be one way so it's a possibility. There's a lot of interest in him from other teams and it's well deserved. The way he has produced over his career and over the last several years, he had a down year last year and he knows it. We think he'll bounce back and other teams think he'll bounce back, otherwise we wouldn't be getting phone calls.