It's the middle of August, and the Toronto Maple Leafs are more or less the same team they were in the middle of July, which means to say, they still don't have forward Nazem Kadri nor defenseman Cody Franson under contract.
Tim Leiweke, the new president of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (and former head of AEG, which made him a part of the Los Angeles Kings' Stanley Cup in 2012) doesn't seem to have an answer on that. Leiweke appeared on Sportsnet 590 The Fan on Tuesday, where he was posed a bunch of questions about the state of the franchise, which spent a lot of money on free agent forward David Clarkson to make their off-season splash. He evaded the question of Kadri and Franson altogether:
"We've added a lot of character to this team, and to this organization, and we've added guys that have won rings, and they know how to win Stanley Cups. So if I'm a player, I want to be in camp, and I want to be in this organization, because I think we have a chance to do some great things here in the next few years."
You can either look at that as a sign that the Leafs feel they're capable of competing again minus Kadri and Franson, or a bit of gamesmanship from Leiweke to try and get the two players to sign for less money than what they have been requesting. Or you can look at it as just avoiding the question completely.
Kadri, the Leafs' first-round pick (seventh overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, had a breakout season in Toronto. He put up 18 goals and 44 points in 48 games in 2012-13, helping the Leafs reach the post-season for the first time since 2003-04. Franson also had an excellent season, tying his career high in points (29) and besting it in assists (25). Both are currently restricted free agents.
It wasn't exactly a banner interview for Leiweke, regardless. At one point during the chat, he referred to Leafs' forward Joffrey Lupul as "Jeffrey." He appeared to make this mistake twice during the interview. Hey, we get it, Joffrey Lupul's name is a little weird, but somebody grab Tim Leiweke a Game of Thrones DVD. Maybe it'll help with the Kadri and Franson negotiations, too.