Mapping out the next 10 steps for the Maple Leafs after landing Babcock

Dan Hamilton / USA TODAY Sports

It'll be much of the same on Monday in Toronto despite the leftover honks, hand slaps and the odd "bro, let's hug this out."

After all, the Toronto Maple Leafs did manage to put the man touted as the greatest practicing coach under their label.

But it'll still be groggy and caffeine-induced, a collective fatigue brought on by staying up late to watch other teams compete for the ultimate prize.

For an empty-nester, though, reality will be the only jolt needed. He'll walk into an office of papers stacked a mile high, open an inbox with a warning for capacity, and brush off a depth chart that - from top to bottom - might be the worst in the NHL.

Having Mike Babcock commit to the process is tremendous for the Leafs. But work is only getting started. Here's what comes next:

10) Promote Mark Hunter

With an understanding that - as general manager - he's still third in command. Hunter is a disciple and extension of Brendan Shanahan, but also possesses significant value in being an elite talent evaluator and conduit to the OHL - the club's premium prospect stream.

Hunter can still be nomadic, working in tandem with those who inhabit the press box nightly.

9) Surround Babcock with (coaching) prospects

His teachings shouldn't be limited to those in pads.

Babcock's staff needs to include the future. Don't put Sheldon Keefe on the Toronto Marlies' bench - let him become the next Babcock by propping him beside the man himself.

Exploit the reservoir of hockey knowledge Babcock owns and groom elite minds. At worst, take a third-round pick as compensation if they leave.

8) Let Hunter make the 4th-overall pick. And trust it.

With more than two decades of evaluating OHL talent, Hunter is the man best equipped to detect nuance, and ultimately make a decision between Dylan Strome, Mitch Marner, and Lawson Crouse.

7) Hit on No. 24, and keep hitting. But HIT ON NO. 24

The first-round pick acquired in the Cody Franson deal must translate into a significant contributor. Better yet, form a partnership with the top selection (a la Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry), and represent the first slabs of concrete on the foundation.

6) Uncover value on the draft floor

This is finding a Johnny Gaudreau, Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman, or (gasp) Tyler Johnson late in the draft, but this is also exploring the trade market to load up on picks and prospects.

There's a significant deal made on every draft floor - leave Dion Phaneuf, Phil Kessel or Tyler Bozak behind at the BB&T Center.

5) Go eaaaasy

Think Mike Reilly, not Stephane Robidas.

There will be room on the books, but free agency isn't time to free wheel. Splurge on malleable talent (Reilly) and hire veterans to promote winning habits (not Robidas) without, well, actually winning.

4) Win a trade

Taking back unwanted, short-term contracts is fine, bludgeoning the cap with retained salary on expatriated alumni isn't. Be creative, solve another team's problem, command value and, in at least one deal, claim the best player.

Could Phaneuf and Bozak fish a Ryan O'Reilly? Find out.

3) Scorch the remaining earth and fill the rinks

Strip it down. Bare bones. Be rid of everything that can't assist the winning process for when it's been mapped out.

But this is also time to flex financial muscle. Flip the pay scale, investing in the most extensive scouting department this sport has seen.

2) Resist the urge

Straight outta the Detroit Red Wings' school of development.

Let Connor Brown, William Nylander and Brendan Leipsic grow, and learn the professional game together without being exposed to the toxins that can fizz in a losing environment.

Their time under Babcock will come soon enough.

1) Prepare another irresistible pitch

Steven Stamkos is never coming to Toronto. But neither was Babcock.

Lightning can strike twice. If Stamkos isn't already signed to an extension, re-route the jet and put on the PowerPoint of a lifetime.

Shanahan can woo, we know this. But imagine the influence with Babcock over his shoulder.

If anything, it's worth the price of fuel.

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Mapping out the next 10 steps for the Maple Leafs after landing Babcock
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