The NHL draft later this month will be the first chance for new executives to make a real splash, guys like Brendan Shanahan in his new role overseeing the Toronto Maple Leafs. Apparently he has designs on doing just that.
Thanks to their late-season collapse, the Leafs are scheduled to pick eighth overall. In last year's draft they still could have had a very good prospect in that spot but in this draft that is considerably not as deep, there's a big difference between eighth and the top three. That could explain why signs are pointing toward the Leafs looking to move up.
According to Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun, the Leafs aren't acting like a team that's going to stay put in their draft slot.
While there has been plenty of scuttlebutt of potential deals making the rounds on the worldwide web recently, this much we do know: Toronto certainly is open to the idea of trading up from the No. 8 pick it holds now.
During the recent scouting combine in Toronto, the Leafs set up a late interview with one of the players projected to go in the Top 3. They originally had not organized a meeting with the kid, who definitely will not be available at eight.
So, what changed?
"Word is, they are exploring moving up -- it's more than due diligence," said a source familiar with the Leafs activities at the combine.
Nothing like some good draft/trade speculation, especially when it involves the Maple Leafs.
Question is, where might they move up to? Well Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon has been open about his team being willing to listen on offers for the first overall pick but it's not like they will give that away for nothing. If they are to part with it, it would not only cost Toronto's eighth pick but probably an NHL player too.
"I'm open for business," Tallon said on Sportsnet 590 last month. "You have three options, you either take it, move back, or trade it. So that's what we're looking at. What's the best deal for our future, that's the key."
The Panthers could no doubt use the first pick with top defenseman Aaron Ekblad the likely target but if Toronto makes the deal good enough, Tallon would be all ears.
Buffalo nor Edmonton would seem to be as willing to part with their draft slots behind Florida.
Just taking a guess, it would seem that Eklbad would be the apple of the Leafs' eye and if that is the case then No. 1 is probably the only place they would be interested in moving up to. Ekblad is the No. 1 or No. 2 prospect, depending on which service you look at, and probably won't make it past whoever picks No. 1.