Watching all of the events since Shanahan was announced, it seems like the formation of a plan is coming to light when you look holistically at the moves & lack of to date.
This is a long term plan, built with patience, and with definite influence from the Red Wings model.
A) Stability: You'll notice the wings have had significant stability for decades, rarely changing coaches or GM's, except when their man becomes available (Babcock), or develops through the organization (Holland). Thus, when Shanny came in, he kept Carlyle with a short leash, and Nonis - who now seems to have to run every decision by him. The alternative, cleaning house to bring in guys you may not be sold on in the long term, would have been change for the sake of it. Had a Jim Nil been available, I think Nonis would have been demoted or shown the door. If you listen to the press conferences / interviews, you can tell that Shanny is calling all the shots - which is not a huge vote of confidence in who he has working for him. I would bet that Shanny has a VERY short list of GM's and coaches he wants, and until one of those becomes available, he will micro manage the guys he has, and make sure the table is set for their replacements.
B) Setting the Table: Outside of guys that Shanny wants (Bolland), the Leafs did not offer any long term contracts this summer. Yes, they offered $$ to Boyle, but only on a shorter term deal with more flexibility. They brought in only flexible players - meaning they are good enough to compete, but on cheap short term deals that can easily be moved if a kid proves better. There have not been ANY long term commitments handed out under Shanny's reign. It honestly feels a lot like table setting to me. If a new GM came in next summer, outside of Clarkson, he wouldn't really be stuck with anyone on this roster. Even Phaneuf can be moved, but outside of HF boards where they would trade him for a bag of pucks, the reality is that it would create a massive hole on the back end that would be detrimental to Reilly and Gardiner.
C) The Path to be Taken: This is the first draft where you can see the "Detroit" model being followed. There is an awesome book by Jim Devellano that is a must read for hockey fans, and it describes the drafting model that Detroit uses. They essentially always select the most talented player available, looking for the 'unteachable' skills. Vision, High Hockey-IQ, etc are things you can't teach - a better shot, size, etc can always come with time. So you pick based on the unteachable, and then be very patient developing the rest. This year the Leafs seemed to have gone that route - picking raw players with unteachable ability and high ceilings. I don't think that's a coincidence. We are about to see the long term path being taken, which I think we had already started. Guys are going to be developed over 3 - 4 years average, playing at least a couple of years for the Marlies first, and having to earn a spot with the Leafs. We'll sign UFA's, but Shanny will try and create a situation where UFA's want to come here and will take a little less to do so. (That will take time to build )
The signs are all there - the Toronto Maple Leafs will become the second coming of the Detroit Red Wings. I'm not talking about matching player for player, etc - but the model used to build the team. Outside of Stevey-Y in 1983, they didn't tank but rather built up slowly through solid drafting, development, and smart player acquisitions. I can see a new coach and GM, but not for a while - when the change is made, it will be for a permanent (10 year) upgrade, and based on the persons availability - not winning or losing in the standings. Shanny will be building for the next 20 years, not the next year or two ... so in the grand scheme of things, we're definitely going to need some patience - but I also think in the long term it will pay off.