Brian Burke knows what he wants.
Getting it could prove to be another headache for the Maple Leafs general manager, who has had more than his fair share in the 21/2 years he has been attempting to re-make the Toronto roster. If Burke has taken care of his No. 1 priority by the time training camp opens in September, it means he will have either signed or traded for an established top-line centre who won’t wilt as the regular season intensifies in the final few months. “Our top priority is a centre, no question about it,” Burke said on Tuesday. “I have to wait and see what there is on July 1. Maybe we have to do it through a trade. We intend to be active on July 1, but we may not get our wish list on July 1.” The first of July is the day that magical franchise-changers, thanks to free agency, are supposed to fall out of the sky. But if Burke’s hunch is that he will have to acquire a first-line centre through a trade, then he probably is right. Brad Richards will be the plum player available, but he has talked about re-signing with the Dallas Stars while others think he could be bound for Broadway and the New York Rangers. Other centres who are headed for free agency include Tim Connolly, Jason Arnott and Michal Handzus. None are cornerstone material. With little else after Richards available on the open market, Burke could find himself in a bit of a jam. He acknowledged he has “plenty” of salary cap space, but probably can’t spend it on the Leafs’ biggest need. A defenceman is not as high a priority, and as far as signing a veteran backup goaltender, Burke is not sure about that either. There’s little sense in going out and signing depth players, because the Leafs have plenty. Burke acknowledged that the strong play of Tim Brent, Darryl Boyce and Joey Crabb will make off-season decisions more difficult.http://www.torontosun.com/sports/hockey/2011/04/12/17968186.html