Brian Burke's big trades: which one wins?

With nearly every current roster player a product of a Brian Burke trade, draft, or signing no one can argue that this isn’t his team. Know for his blockbusters, Burke has not been shy in the trade market since landing in Toronto. Below is a list of the biggest moves he’s made (not all trades are included, but feel free to mention a missing-but-important one if you feel so compelled). So, let’s get to it, and break these trades down:

Tor: Phil Kessel
Bos: 1st (Seguin), 1st (Hamilton), 2nd (Knight)
One of the most hotly contested trades in Leafs history. Countless words have been written about the winner of this trade. All things said and done, in Burke’s own words “Chiarelli has a ring”. We all know what Kessel has done for the leafs this season; however, on the flip side, Segin is on a tear of his own. We can’t project what the outcome could have been had this trade not taken place, but Burke has said multiple times that he would do it again in a heartbeat.

Tor: Lupul, Gardiner, Conditional 4th
Ana: Bauchemin
When the leafs went into selling mode after starting the season very poorly, Burke stuck with what he knew, and shipped Beauchemin back to the Ducks organization, a familiar trading partner. Analysts at the time claimed that for the leafs the trade was all about Gardiner, many seeing Lupul and overpaid (at the time, second only the Kessel salary wise). Fast forward, and they were half right. Gardiner is now logging well over 20 minutes a night and has recieved very high praise up and down the organization. Lupul, on the other hand, is again only second to Kessel, except that now it is in league scoring.
Tor: Phanuf, Sjostrom, Aulie
Cal: Stajan, Hagman, Mayers, White
Possibly one of the most schocking trades in recent history – no one saw this one coming. The Leafs paid, what was at the time, a steep price in two of their top six and defender that was hot as fire (and had a pretty sweet moustache to ‘boot). Shortly thereafter, Dion was given the C, and after a slow start in Toronto, has regain his status as one of the top D-men in the league. Sjostrom was a PK specialist in his time with the Buds, but was not resigned. Aulie has yet to live up to his potential, but considering Phaneuf’s resurgence and the decline of the players that went to Calgary, he is just gravy.
Tor: Gigeure
Ana: Toskala, Blake
Burke pulled the trigger on this on mere moments after the Phaneuf trade. This trade was largely a salary dump for Anaheim and an anti-venom for Toronto (Blake and Toskala had to go). Giggy never returned to his cup winning form, but was non the less an important transition to the eventual James Reimer. Unloading the contracts of Blake and Toskala went a far way for the Maple Leafs and helped Burke put his stamp on the team.
Tor: 1st, conditional 2nd, Colbourne
Bos: Kaberle
Many saw this trade as some revenge against the Bruins. Kaberle had to waive his no-trade clause and let the leafs move him, but was essentially useless in B-town, being reduced to third pairing minutes as the playoffs wore on. The massive center has been owning the AHL and contributed 4 points in 6 games with the big club. He is largely seen as the big power center of the future. Toronto got a first back, and was not offered a contract by Chiarelli (now he’s Carolina’s problem).
Tor: 1st, 3rd
Phi: Versteeg
Acquired from Chicago after their cup win, Versteeg was good in Toronto, but after a half a failing season, Burke shipped him off for some nice picks. Many saw this trade as Burke admiting defeat; however, it essentially boiled down to turning Sweat (who made it know he would not sign in Toronto), DiDomenico, Stalberg, and some nobody (Paradis, if you’re counting) into a 1st and 3rd (and about 15 goals for the leafs, I suppose).
So the question begs asking, which of the above trades was:
i) Best for the Leafs in the long-run
ii) Most one sided for the Leafs
iii) The biggest ‘win’ for the Leafs
Now discuss! (and try to be civil…)
Thanks for reading.

26 Responses to Brian Burke's big trades: which one wins?

  1. mojo19 says:

    Well, I really believe the Kessel trade was good value for both sides.

    Lupul and Gardiner is probably my favourite…
    …until I get to the Phaneuf trade. Also a beaut by the Burkster.

    Kaberle for Colborne, and a 1st (and a 2nd which was flipped for Liles) is another great one. But still prefer the Gardiner, Lupul, and Phaneuf pickups the most, at least so far. If Colborne becomes a huge stud 1st line center in the next couple years, then we have a debate, until then, this one is a 3rd place.

    Versteeg was not happy in Toronto, and we did get to draft QB of the Majors PP in Stuart Percy. Excellent prospect. Versteeg didn't play the same way for Wilson as he has played in Florida, so I will say this was fine value to get for him, although imagine our team with him, playing the way he is right now. That would be a sweet winger to have in the line up. But its okay, he needed that change to grow.

  2. mojo19 says:

    So to answer your questions, I'll go with this –

    Best for the Leafs in the long run will be the the Gardiner pick up. Beauchemin will be effective for a few more years but Gardiner will have a great career. And Lupul is only 28, not like we couldn't get a good 4, 5, maybe 6 or 7 years out of him depending on how things go.

    Most one sided is the Phaneuf trade because it didn't help Calgary in any way. In fact, they are paying Hagman to play for Anaheim right now and wish they didn't re-sign Stajan. White was dealt for Babchuk and he's gone. Mayers left as UFA. Aulie and Phaneuf are looking damn good in Toronto.

    The biggest 'win' for the Leafs? Hmmm… I'm not sure if I'm making a distinction between this and the last one, so I'm gonna go with the Kaberle trade. I count it as a big 'win' because it helps offset any questions about how much we gave up for Kessel. Suppose Dougie Hamilton becomes a really great player, Colborne has the potential to offset that and help to balance the two trades out. (Assuming we count Kessel and Seguin as a wash, more or less.)

  3. Steven_Leafs says:

    i) Best for the Leafs in the long-run

    Lupul/Gardiner trade. Gardiner looks much better than Beachemin right now and at only 20 years old, that's a long-term win. Funny that Lupul was a cap dump that Burke HAD TO take… 2nd overall league-wide in scoring. Very nice.

    ii) Most one sided for the Leafs

    The Phaneuf trade. We got our captain and a young talented defenseman that will be with us for a long time (unless we trade him for something huge) and Calgary got Stajan at a massively inflated contract and… well… nothing. Suckers.

    iii) The biggest 'win' for the Leafs

    Tough to say, each trade is a 'win' in many different ways. I personally am going to go with the Giguere trade for one reason: If we don't make this trade, we may never have discovered Reimer last year. Not the best reason, but I'm going with it.

    Interesting thing is, if we would have finished out of the bottom 5 in 2010, the answer to all 3 questions would have been the Kessel trade. The fact that Boston got Seguin really balanced this trade out.

    Funny thing is when we made this trade I was pissed, Burke not too long before and right after the trade he said that he was planning on doing a short 2-3 year rebuild instead of the usual 4-6 years, and what does he do? He flips our 1st round picks in those draft years. But now, even with Seguin, I'm happy with the trade. If we kept the picks, we wouldn't have a chance for the playoffs this season (not likely anyway).

    Nice post JoelLeafs, I love seeing those trades like that.

    Oh and just for fun:

    Leafs Acquired:

    Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf, Joffrey Lupul, Jake Gardiner, John-Michael Liles, Keith Aulie, Joe Colborne, Tyler Biggs, Stuart Percy, Josh Leivo, 2013 conditional 4th

    (and Giguere, Sjostrom, Sweatt who left our team for nothing)

    Leafs Traded Away:

    Tyler Seguin, Kris Versteeg, Dougie Hamilton, Francois Beauchemin, Ian White, Tomas Kaberle, Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman, Jamal Mayers, Vesa Toskala, Jason Blake, 2010 32nd overall pick, 2011 39th overall pick

    Note: I wrote the two 2nds like that because I doubt we would have picked Knight and Gibson. Obviously we would have picked Seguin and most likely would have picked Hamilton.

  4. senators_choke says:

    There's no denying Burke has made solid moves as GM. We have to remember that 3 years ago, the Leafs were trying to clean up the disaster left behind by JFJ.

  5. reinjosh says:

    Part disaster. To be fair JFJ was an effective scout, just a terrible GM. Gunnarson was a JFJ pick, as was Reimer, some of picks directly led to the Versteeg trade and the resulting picks we got from trading him, Kulemin was a JFJ pick (yes he's struggling), Frattin was a JFJ pick. 

    So some of the groundwork was in place for Burke. But largely, yes JFJ left Burke with very little and a lot of rubble to clean up. 
  6. reinjosh says:

    1) Best for the Leafs in the long run? How do you choose? The first one gave the Leafs a player to build their offense around and an offensive star they could count on, something they hadn't had since Sundin left. Debate the trade all you want, we didn't give up Seguin, Knight and Hamilton, we gave up undetermined picks and got back an offensive star. At worst its working out for both teams. I'm getting off topic lol. Still great trade for us long term.

    Phanuef trade. Also great trade long term. Gave us a number 1 dman to build our defense core around, grabbed a piece for the core and gave us a captain. And the Lupul trade. We grabbed a young dman who looks to be a top 4 long term and a top 6 player who is still young. Also great for the future. I honestly can't choose. I pick all three.
    2) Most One-Sided – It has to be the Phaneuf trade. The way Phaneuf is playing its rivaling the Thornton and Gilmour trade as one of the most one-sided in history. As a Leafs fan I love this trade, as a Flames fan I hate it (and it single handily turned me on Sutter, a GM I respected before this). Gave up a young top 2 dman with number 1 dman potential and a Norris nom already? Plus a prospect? It was a terrible trade. The Flames can't even take away the small plus of cap space as the difference between Stajan and the Hagman cap hits is only 1.5 million right now. Just the fact that Sutter had to sign Stajan to "have something to show for Phaneuf" shows how bad that trade was. Babchuk is the only piece that could somehow have come from the Phaneuf trade and he's meh at best (and injured right now to boot). Just one of the worst trades in NHL history. 
    Some people might be tempted to claim the Lupul trade was also one-sided but I would say they are incorrect. Both sides wanted to get rid of a player and both sides had those players turn out to play very well. Lupul is riding shotgun to Kessel and Beauchemin is playing as a top 2 with Fowler. We got Gardiner but chances were that he wouldn't have seen NHL time with Anaheim for a while. He had been passed by Schultz in Anaheim (a teammate of Gardiner's on Michigan) and with Fowler on the team, he was a nice piece but largely unneeded. So it was a trade that benefited both sides. 
    3) Uh Kaberle for Colborne/1st/2nd? Phaneuf? Kessel? Lupul/Gardiner? They were all pretty damn big wins. Even if the other side won as well. Kessel's leading the league in points, Lupul is second, Gardiner is a 20 minute a night rookie dman improving almost nightly, Colborne tore up the AHL and is producing at the NHl level, that 2nd got us Liles whose quietly been effective and a good veteran influence, plus that 30th helped as a trade chip to get a targeted prospect. They are all big wins for the Leafs. I'm not entirely sure which one is the biggest. 
  7. senators_choke says:

    The one JFJ trade that really killed us was the Raycroft trade.

    Not only did JFJ give away Rask for a shitty goalie, but then he also had to "correct" the trade by making another trade to get Toskala which was also a bad trade.

  8. JoelLeafs says:

    It's a tough call. In hindsight, I can't believe how much I love the Gardiner Lupul trade. Absolutely amazing. However, you raise a good point about that being pretty on par with the Phaneuf and Kessel trades as far as team impact long term. So glad we got Burke. 

    Thanks for reading.
  9. JoelLeafs says:

    Glad you liked the post. I enjoyed your comment. 

  10. reinjosh says:

    Yeah that was a bad trade. 

    I feel like this trade was a large result of a moronic step in move but upper management on JFJ and it was the start of the fall for him. They got to involved and wanted to make the playoffs and it led to him giving up the wrong goalie to get Raycroft. 

    I honestly think if this hadn't happened, things might have been a whole lot different for us. JFJ was and is a great scout. It was his biggest strength and where we were at that time, he was actually a good fit for the job. But upper management didn't want to wait and he was forced to go out of his comfort zone, to the detriment of the team. 

  11. reinjosh says:

    Thanks for the article. It was a good read and a better discussion piece. Keep em coming. Your one of the best guys on here for discussions.

    Burke is the king of trades. I honestly don't think there are any better GM's out there for trades. Holmgren is probably comparable but his trades haven't worked out on the level Burke's have and Burke has a much longer history of awesome trades. Toss in Nonis and his famed Luongo trade and we probably have two of the top 5 trader's in the NHL. You could even consider Fletcher in that top 5. 
    Lupul and Gardiner was amazing. I don't think anyone ever thought things would turn out this great for it. I mean Gardiner is pulling top 4 minutes and not looking out of place at all. Lupul is the 2nd highest scorer in the League right now but he also has insane chemistry with Kessel, which I think is more important for that trade. Kessel's a damn 90 point player since Lupul came here. In the 53 games they have played together, he's only been held off the scoreboard 12 times and only two of those were back to back (coming last season). Ridiculous. 
    You know what's crazy? Two players in the top 10 are players that were well traveled before this season. Both had some high potential and GM's claiming but neither really seized that potential till two GM's with previous experience with them re-acquired them. Versteeg and Lupul. Who would have thought they would be top 10 in scoring even a quarter through the season. 
  12. mapleleafsfan says:

    I'd say the biggest win has the be the phaneuf trade… IF the picks had panned out any differetly in Boston (literally one spot lower), the kessel trade. I loved kaberle but he's past it now and for some reason can't play for anyone else. Great return on him. Overall Burke has killed it. It's funny people knock him.

    Gotta wonder how calgary would be sitting if they never made that trade. Having a great number 1 Dman, plus aulie who would probably be in their lineup. Might've kept on to regehr if they were competitive. Assuming they wouldve signed a free agent or two to fill the massive stajan void, I think they'd probably be a playoff team. Sucks for Iggy how a couple boneheaded moves have pretty much ensured he never wins a cup with calgary.
    Imagine we didn't make any of those trades. Weird to think. I don't wanna try to plot out the whole lineup but it'd be pretty weird. Replace Phaneuf, Liles and gardiner with kaberle and beauch. Replace Kessel and Lupul with seguin and versteeg. 
    I'm glad we're at where we're at lol
  13. JoelLeafs says:

    Yeah, it's hard to predict where we would have been. It is possible that we may have snuck into the playoffs once or twice since the lockout, but we seem poised to now and have such a young team with great potential that I have to think the medium and long term is looking great. People were pissed that Burke wanted to so a short term rebuild instead of the usual 5+ years, then traded away two first, but now we're laughing. A great indicator is the strength of the Marlies. Outside of Detroit, it's pretty rare to have a team in the top five of both leagues. In short, I'm excited for the future, and things don't look to bad in the present. 

  14. JoelLeafs says:

    Glad you enjoy my pieces. I've started a new blog recently (mostly non hockey topics, but some do creep in). If you like, PM me and I'll send you the link. Although I must warn you, the content is more controversial than my HRT posts. 

    Thanks for the kind comments. 
  15. TheLeafNation91 says:

    His best deal will be the one that establishes from a pretender into a serious contender.

    That will be his defining move…But it has not happened yet.

  16. toronto77 says:

    i) Kaberle trade – we got colborne who could potentially turn into that top line centre that we have been missing since sundin, we got tyler biggs who will be a great two-way top 6 forward and liles who moves the puck as well as kaberle does, but is more aggressive and isn't afraid to shoot.

    ii) Kaberle trade again – kaberle is no longer with the bruins and did not help them win the cup, even if kaberle was still with the bruins, it would still be a one sided trade for us, that trade clearly makes up for the kessel trade, even if bruins fans don't want to admit it.

    iii) Gardiner trade – I cannot believe we got gardiner from anaheim for only beauchemin! i guess we had to take lupul's contract and it didn't matter the ducks because fowler and sbisa made gardiner expendable, but that doesn't mean you trade him away for nothing, if the ducks were smart they should have asked:

    To Tor: Lupul, Gardiner, conditional pick

    To Ana: Beauchemin, Kadri

    Whether the ducks had use for Gardiner or not, you don't trade him based on his value to your paticular team, you trade based on his overall value, and what he can do for the leafs.

  17. Steven_Leafs says:

    yeah JFJ wouldn't have seemed like such a failure if he would have traded Pogge for Raycroft. Oh well, what can you do.

  18. toronto77 says:

    This is thus far the most tightest NHL season afte the 20-25 game mark.

    Only SEVEN POINTS seperates 2nd to 13th in the east, and only ELEVEN POINTS  seperates 1st to 13th in the west. This is an exciting but yet scary race in the league. The new NHL is starting to have a huge affect now that ALL 30 teams are starting to respect draft picks and properly develop young players. Even the worst team in the league will have atleast two star forwards and an amazing defencemen. Competition is getting more and more tight every year.

    I want to see Pittsburgh and Boston in the conference finals in the east and nashville and chicago in the west!

  19. Steven_Leafs says:

    Gardiner's value was no where near as high as it is now and Lupul was seen as dead weight by the Ducks, yes in hind-sight they should have asked for much more but at the time it was a fair trade for both sides. Leafs get a young D for an aging one and take on Lupul's contract who could have very easily been forced to retire or could not get back to his top-playing form.

    Lucky for us. 😀

  20. Vicks_Prick_Leafs says:

    thanks Josh, i often find myself being the sole JFJ defendant.

    i think his traffic record is abhorantly bad.
    i think he was pressured allot by upper management. seeing this was his first time as GM he was hired as a "puppet" and "scapegoat" for the management to dictate trades without taking blame.

    lol yeah that kinda reads like a conspiracy theory

  21. mapleleafsfan says:
    I'd personally rather see a Toronto-NYI east final and a Colombus-Anaheim west.
  22. senators_choke says:

    If he had moved Pogge instead of Rask, he would have been smart, but he wasn't.

    To people who say he was a good scout, I don't care. It's his time as GM that hurt the Leafs. Good thing Burke came in and cleaned up the shit JFJ left behind.

  23. reinjosh says:

    I agree completely. Was he a bad GM? Yes he was. There isn't much to support him being a good GM but it was more than just him in that. He was definitely pressured by the upper management and it led to him forcing moves through and in the end a complete destruction of the team. 

    He is a good scout and some of the guys on our team now go to prove that (and the fact that San Jose still employs him as a Scout) but he was pulled out of his element when managment put pressure on him. He couldn't deal with the pressure and caved. 
  24. reinjosh says:

    I would actually be interested in that. 

    And controversial is not a problem for me. My degree is in poli sci and it pretty much presents itself in almost every class.
  25. reinjosh says:

    Gardiner's value had fallen and was nowhere near where it is now and they had a depth of assets in young Puck Moving defenseman. You always trade from depth for a lack of something at thats what they did. They had no use for Lupul on the third line and really couldn't afford to pay his salary to play a third line role. Thus they could afford to give up Gardiner to not only get rid of the useless salary but also get a dman they desperately needed. That's why it was a good trade for them. They got a piece that actually fits really well with Gardiner, gained some cap space, and got rid of a player that didn't fit into the team (and more than likely made the locker room a little less tight. Lupul isn't a bad guy but having a guy thats frustrated can bring a locker room down).

    So they got three key things in that deal and really thats all that matters to them. The value of Gardiner and Lupul now doesn't determine the trade at that time. It's not one of those deals. 
  26. mojo19 says:

    That move will work in tandem with the Phaneuf and Lupul pick ups though. You can't just talk about the last piece of the puzzle. every piece of the puzzle is important.

    That's like saying after a 4-3 win that the only important goal was the 4th one. News flash, that goal isn't a game winner without those other 3.

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