He’s still without a title, but Rick Dudley has been very much on the job for the Toronto Maple Leafs the past 12 days.
The former Atlanta Thrashers GM was at the Leafs prospect development camp today watching 42 of the organization’s youngsters put through the paces by new assistant coaches Scott Gordon and Greg Cronin.
Dudley said he’s had input into the Leafs decisions made over the past few days, including the signing of Tim Connolly and trades for John-Michael Liles, Cody Franson and Matt Lombardi.
Dudley joined what’s become a pretty crowded front office on June 24, days after learning he was one of many Thrashers staffers to lose their jobs in the move to Winnipeg.
Not having a defined role, however, hasn’t been a problem.
“I guess I call myself a consultant or an advisor at this point,” Dudley said. “I’ll do whatever they ask me to. Hopefully with the experience I’ve had, I can help.”
Dudley has a home in Lewiston, N.Y., and said he figures he’ll be making that commute often this year. Well known as a road warrior who saw more games than any other GM in the league while with the Thrashers, Dudley doesn’t mind putting in a lot of miles.
Here are a few other comments he made today:
On joining the Leafs after being pursued by many NHL teams: “I’ve got a bit of a history with Brian [Burke]. We’ve always gotten along well and I’ve always liked what he’s done so it was a relatively easy decision really.”
On the team’s recent additions: “Connolly’s an inordinately skilled guy and if he can stay healthy, he can get a lot of points.”
“Franson is a defenceman that’s young and his best is yet to come. Right now, for me, he’s a No. 4 defenceman but he can go higher than that. He can be an 18 to 20 minute defenceman. At least. The other thing about it, when you play with Shea Weber, you don’t get a lot of time on the power play. This kid had eight or nine goals even though he played with Shea Weber and didn’t get a lot of time on the power play. He can shoot the puck. He can provide some offence.”
“In Lombardi’s case, he’s a very good player that has to get healthy. Our hope is that he’ll get healthy quickly.”
On the free-agent frenzy: “To be candid with you, I’m very happy that we didn’t get into some of the silliness that went on in the first part of free agency. We made a couple of really pointed moves -- we needed a skilled centre, we got one -- but some of the things that were done were asinine to me.
“Come training camp, if one or two young players makes the team, they’re going to have to move someone ... And they’re not going to be able to move the people they just signed. They’re going to have to look at assets on their roster and move them.”
“I was very happy that Brian and David decided not to get into that nonsense. What I call nonsense.”
On the floor teams: “To me it’s amazing that it happened like that [with low spending teams spending big]. I think of the teams I was with, some of them, if they had to push to $48-million, life would have been over. I remember in Florida I had a $21-million payroll. In Tampa, I think when we added Khabibulin, we went from $17.5-million to $21-million. So it’s a little different now. The reality is it’s tough on them.”