The Toronto Maple Leafs could be on the verge of going full Buffalo Sabres.
Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment’s ownership board met with the hockey club’s management team two weeks ago and approved a long-term, down-to-the-wood rebuild for the Maple Leafs, according to a report by the Globe and Mail‘s Cathal Kelly.
The rebuilding project should spell another three to five more seasons of losing for a city that — barring a miracle — will have seen just one playoff series in the past 11 years.
The article also details which players management believes are valuable and which core members -- including the captain and the leading scorer -- are not part of the rebuild's blueprint.
Mr. Shanahan and his lieutenants have now finally received a broad mandate from ownership to scorch as much earth as they see fit in order to return the Leafs to contention, according to two sources familiar with that meeting. It will mean a new philosophy on building slowly through the draft and long-term projects, rather than quick fixes via trades for established players. It will mean at least three more years of pain for fans, and as many as five....
This season has allowed management to identify a new core of players it wants to keep – Morgan Rielly, Jake Gardiner, Jonathan Bernier, William Nylander. Nazem Kadri and James van Riemsdyk are still considered valuable because of their youth. There are some favourites, but no one – not even a budding star such as Mr. Rielly – is untouchable.
It won’t happen until summer, but Mr. Phaneuf and Mr. Kessel are not in the plan. The goal now is extracting as much value as possible for them. That translates either to young players who are high-ceiling projects and draft picks.
Read the full article here.