Burke's off-season to-do list for the Leafs

Claiming he had absolutely no fear of being fired if his vision for the Maple Leafs does not come to fruition in the near future, general manager Brian Burke unveiled his off-season shopping list Wednesday.

To that end, his wish list includes:
1. A Top-6 forward;
2. Adding more size to the roster;
3. Augmenting team toughness.

Easier said than done.

But Burke maintains he will stick to his plan of building from the net out. In other words, most of the focus this summer will be on the forward ranks, with the blue line and goaltending corps seemingly set.

And if the blue print doesn’t work for a franchise that has not reached the playoffs in five consecutive seasons?

“I’m immune to the fear of getting canned,” Burke said candidly during his end-of-the-season address to the Toronto media at the Air Canada Centre. “I made the playoffs four consecutive times in Vancouver and still got fired so I know it’s part of the job.”

Burke referred to the upcoming off-season as a “watershed” period for the team, one that will set the tone for the direction of the franchise.

In the meantime, Burke met with pending unrestricted free agents like Wayne Primeau and Rickard Wallin Monday as part of management’s season-end player meetings and told both he could make no promises they would return.

On the other hand, he did reiterate the team’s desire to bring back goalie Jonas Gustavsson and forward Nikolai Kulemin, both restricted free agents. David Nonis, Burke’s right-hand man, has held discussions with representatives for both players, adding that there was no progress to report as of yet.

Responding to reports that Kulemin might be eyeing the KHL, Burke said that if the Russian-based league threw ridiculous money Kulemin’s way, the Leafs would not be in the mix.

Burke added he would like to acquire a first-round pick in the June draft after giving up Toronto’s No. 1 as part of the Phil Kessel deal last September.

“Not because of (the trade) or anything but because I feel bad for our scouts sitting at the draft table,” he said.

Burke did not watch the draft lottery Tuesday, one in which the Bruins were confirmed as the No. 2 pick, acquired from Toronto in the Kessel trade.

“I watched the Blue Jays game instead…I watched David Nonis drinking beer behind home plate …I wish I had been there with him,” Burke said.


57 Responses to Burke's off-season to-do list for the Leafs

  1. cam7777 says:

    marleau is really ideal, as he is so versatile.  he can play the left wing or center, which is perfect for pairing with bozak/kessel, or centering kessel is bozak proves to struggle in his sophomore year.  he's a leader, but a quiet leader, which is great, because the room would easily belong to dion phaneuf.  he also kills penalties, and has phenomenal speed.  that speed is important, because we are building a fast team, which kind of puts guys like penner and even malone as tertiary options – they couldn't keep up with kessel, bozak, kadri and kulemin.

    as far as trade targets go, i don't think there's any question that bobby ryan is the guy burke would most like to nab.  this way, you're giving both bozak and kadri a star winger to work with, and really allowing them to develop properly.  with a top six like this:

    marleau / bozak / kessel
    kulemin / kadri / b.ryan

    there's a lot of room for growth.  they may not be dominant right away, but they are all so young (save marleau), they would have a long time to gel.  so basically, sign marleau, and find a way to turn kaberle, grabovski, and any extra picks/prospects into bobby ryan.

  2. gregmash_Leafs says:

    Your right that Marleau would be the perfect fit but the problem still remains thats the relationship between him and Wilson is not good.Thus being said if Marleau and wilson could work past these differences he would be a great fit indeed.Bobby Ryan would also be an awesome fit but Anaheim already traded for Lubomir Visnosky who plays a similar style to Kaberle. But ya know what, I never thought Burke would be able to dump all our trash in Calgary(aside from White) for Phaneuf a decent prospect in Aulie and a good penalty killer in Sjostrom. So as Brian Burke said ''there's more then one way to skin a cat''.

  3. DannyLeafs says:

    I have really taken a liking to your earlier idea of going after Pavelski. It's funny because I have liked it more and more as time went on, but it seems you have somewhat cooled on the idea. Personally I think Pavelski would be a great fit, and is so versatile that he will make the team better in a number of different ways. He is a great penalty Killer, which the leafs could really use. He could play center if Kadri isn't quite ready, and he easily shift to the Right wing as he has done in the past. He has 30 goal 60 point guy written all over him, and his age fits with the core of the team. Also, I think he could be looking for something in the 4 million range, so it may be difficult for San Jose to keep him if they want to keep Marleau. I know it is unlikely Marleau sticks around if San Jose gets put out in round 1 or 2, but it is definitely something to look into.

    Marleau would be a great addition to the Leafs, but I just don't see it happening. It might, but I think he would prefer to go to a team that has a good shot at being a contender next season, and I also think he somewhat prefers not to be "the guy", so I think he will choose a team where he can be a bit more of a supporting role.

    Personally I would be content with Either scenario. Simply signing Marleau would be great since we would still have all of our assets, and could move Kaberle for pure potential, rather than feeling we need a guy that could play in the top six immediately.

  4. cam7777 says:

    Exactly, about acquiring Ryan.  You don't have to trade Kaberle directly to them.  Trade him to someone else, and then send that package to Anaheim along with Grabovski and picks/prospects, or whatever it takes.  Just because they may not be interested in Kaberle doesn't mean he's useless as far as acquiring Ryan is concerned, it just means it will take 2 trades to land him instead of one.

    Wilson claims that he and Marleau have long since patched things up, and that Marleau told him he would play for him any day.  He said this in his initial press conference with the Maple Leafs.  Whether this is true or not, who knows, but why would Wilson make it up?  I've long said, if Marleau won't come here, it won't be because of Wilson.  His wife loves SoCal, and so that could be a contributing factor.  My guess is he ends up in LA.

    Still, Burke is a master free agent GM, and he does have a certain lustre that attracts players to him.  the Leafs may not look like it yet, but Burke himself is a winner, and he wants to build one.  His record for success is pretty decent, having created the cup finalist canucks team in 94, as well as all but 4 players from the current canucks squad, and of course, his most recent work in anaheim – burke alone is reason for free agents to consider toronto.

  5. cam7777 says:

    Yes, but as time wore on in the season, I think Setoguchi and Clowe became more expendable than Pavelski, and since they will probably let Marleau walk now, it seems like they'll be keeping little Joe.

    If we added Bobby Ryan, I don't think Marleau would have to be the man.  The pressure would be on Kessel, Ryan, Phaneuf, Schenn, Bozak and Kadri as well – which is a pretty solid crew.  I hope Burke can pull this off. 

  6. gregmash_Leafs says:

    Any deal we are going to see Burke do this summer will not involve giving up assets or going for free agents its going to involve taking on big time salary from a team like Tampa,Philly or Chicago so one of the guys we end up aqquiring will be from one of those teams and the other will be from a trade from Kaberle.

  7. Leafs_Forever says:

    Give it up.  Why would Calgary do this?  Calgary definately doesn't need more D…


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