Burke open for business

Leafs GM will be busy man on trade front

By LANCE HORNBY, Toronto Sun

Brian Burke advises all fellow general managers who truly believe they’re on the verge of a Stanley Cup to go for that last key trade and to hang with the cost.

And if you’re going to deal, don’t forget that phone number, 1-800-GO-BURKE, or stop on by at 40 Bay St.

The Maple Leafs’ boss was talking up a storm Saturday, declaring the Leafs were not out of the playoff race, but were ready for any trade scenario, either before the NHL Olympic roster freeze in three weeks or the frenzied follow up to the March 3 league deadline. The Leafs have just concluded two days of pro scouting meetings in Ft. Lauderdale and Burke hung out the ‘Open For Business’ sign right after.

“We rate all the teams, rate all the players and are ready to move if a team steps up,” Burke said. “If I could make a deal today that could propel us into the playoffs, I’d make it. Obviously, with each loss the chances are more remote, but that’s still our goal.

“People can laugh all they want when they see this interview, but that was our goal at the start of the season and it’s still our priority.

“We are preparing to be a buyer or a seller. We’re dealing with that internal dynamic too, who is going to sign and if they want to sign and stay here at a reasonable price. We’ve evaluated our internal assets, now we’re evaluating the assets of teams that are likely to step up and offer us someone. A trade is one phone call, but the work that goes into it takes typically weeks or months. But we’re ready after these meetings.”

By “internal assets”, Burke meant the nine unrestricted free agents the Leafs have looming in July, five restricted as well as any commodities under contract for 2010-11. Everyone wants defenceman Tomas Kaberle of course and his $4.25 million US cap-friendly salary, and though he’s sticking to his no-trade clause which Burke says he’ll honour, going to a city he likes with a chance to win a Cup might yet entice him at the last second. Kaberle would surely fetch the first rounder the Leafs lost in the Phil Kessel deal.

Burke said Anaheim’s pursuit of Chris Pronger and Francois Beauchemin when he ran the Ducks a few years was not universally acclaimed, until they won the 2007 Cup.

“Beauchemin was a player I didn’t want, but the scouting staff did, so we asked for him in the (Sergei Federov) deal,” Burke said. “Bob Murray, my assistant GM, said this was the guy we had to have. I have a lot different opinion of him now, bringing him here, but at the time I went back to my notes and he’d never done anything. But you rely on your staff.