Leafs drafting strategy

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:05 AM ET

The NHL draft is a month away, yet the Maple Leafs already have started to kick some tires around the league.

General manager John Ferguson said last night the Leafs are exploring their options concerning the 13th overall pick and have held talks about moving from that spot.

Would that mean going up or down?

"We're of an open mind either way," Ferguson said. "We've had discussions with others who have a similar mindset."

He was quick to point out there is no urgency to get rid of the 13th selection.

While the pick is nowhere near as sexy as sitting in the coveted No. 1 slot -- like the NBA Raptors -- the Leafs organization would be content to stay right there if need be.

"We think we will get a very promising prospect at 13 if we don't move up or back," he said.

Ferguson and his staff will get an up-close look at many of the draft-eligible players during the prospects combine in Toronto next week.

Players who are of particular interest to the Leafs will then be invited to the Air Canada Centre where team officials will put the candidates through further testing.

The prospects combine will lure many of hockey's top agents to town, meaning Ferguson likely will have the chance to speak with the handlers of Jason Allison and Eric Lindros.

"There is no update on either (player)," Ferguson said. "I have already heard from Jason's representative. As for Eric, I understand his rehab is going well and he is training hard."

Ferguson admitted "there is communication" with Jeff Solomon, the agent for pending unrestricted free agent Bryan McCabe. But as is his established policy, Ferguson refused to elaborate on the state of the discussions.

McCabe reportedly is seeking a long-term deal of at least five years at $5 million-plus US per season.

"His position is well documented," Ferguson said.

Along with preparing for the draft and free agency, Ferguson also has the ongoing Owen Nolan arbitration grievance to deal with. Those hearings are expected to resume in mid-June in New York.

Meanwhile forward Darcy Tucker started working out the other day after spending the previous six weeks resting his injured ribs. Tucker played with the ailment since being hurt in early January.

"It was tough," he said. "I'm just happy to be working again with (Leafs strength and conditioning coach) Matt Nichol.

"I have some pain every now and then when I get out of bed wrong. Otherwise it's been pretty good."


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