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Maple Leafs not pushing playoffs after lottery win

GM Lamoriello says 'nothing's going to change' plan that's in place

by NHL.com @NHL / NHL.com

Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello said Monday that winning the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft doesn't accelerate their chances of making the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"I don't think we should be thinking of the playoffs or we should be thinking of anything else other than sticking to the process that is in place," Lamoriello told "Prime Time Sports with Bob McCown," according to Sportsnet. "The end result takes care of itself, but if we have an opportunity during the summer to acquire a player, to trade for a player, to use some of our assets to get better, that's what we will do.

"But as far as having a focus on doing anything and everything, say, to get short-term success -- absolutely not. We're going to stick with what [president] Brendan [Shanahan] has put in place. We've all made a commitment to that. Nothing's going to change that."

The Maple Leafs, who had the worst record in the NHL this season, won the NHL Draft Lottery on Saturday and will have the No. 1 pick for the first time since 1985. Toronto is expected to draft center Auston Matthews, an 18-year-old who had 24 goals and 46 points in 36 games for the ZSC Lions of the Swiss National League A this past season.

Video: Brendan Shanahan joins the guys at NHL Tonight

Toronto signed 24-year-old defenseman Nikita Zaitsev from the Kontinental Hockey League to a one-year, entry-level contract Monday, adding another player to a group of young prospects that includes Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Reilly (22) and forward William Nylander (20), and minor-league forwards Mitchell Marner (18) and Zach Hyman (23).

The Maple Leafs have made the playoffs once in the past 11 seasons. They were 29-42-11 this season, their first under coach Mike Babcock.

"I think that this weekend has certainly helped that process, being able to pick the best player in the draft, being able to sign a free agent who in our minds will be able to come in and help this team," Lamoriello said. "He's 24 years old, the only reason he signed a one-year contract is he's in the last year of his entry level. So we feel good about that. But these are just stepping stones. We don't want anyone to get too excited. This is a process you have to go through. We're not worrying about the end result right now. That will take care of itself."

Lamoriello admitted he'll need to add veteran players to provide guidance.

"All young players you have to surround them and you have to give them every opportunity to succeed by providing them the support staff on the ice and off the ice," Lamoriello said. "That's something that is consistent with any young player.

"I don't think you ever have enough role models. How important is that? Absolutely. I think the culture you set for them, you have to hold everybody accountable to it, and that's what the young players have to see is that the veterans that you have around them are just as accountable as they are and will be held accountable."

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