Busy deadline ahead for Leafs

Burke promises significant shakeup


With the help of some carefully placed scaffolds and ladders, workers were busy hanging blue-and-white Stanley Cup banners around the MasterCard Centre on Thursday, sprinkling some colourful flair and a touch of history to the Maple Leafs new practice facility.

In the coming days, expect the facelift to extend into the Leafs dressing room as well.

General manager Brian Burke admitted as much to a national radio audience during the first intermission of the Canada-Russia Olympic quarter-final Wednesday, using words like “significant” and “busy” to describe the potential trade activity involving his Leafs leading up to the March 3 trade deadline.

Burke noted that the Leafs would be both “buyers and sellers” once the Olympic roster freeze is lifted at the conclusion of the Winter Games Sunday in Vancouver. While that only leaves three days to conclude business at the NHL’s annual swap meet, the chatter and tire-kicking already has started.

Burke has made it clear that he would take on salary in a deal in order to land draft picks and/or prospects as part of a package. At the same time, there are four pending unrestricted free agents on his roster — forwards Alexei Ponikarovsky, Lee Stempniak, Wayne Primeau and defenceman Garnet Exelby — who might be packing their bags within the next week.

Tomas Kaberle easily would fetch the most lucrative return on the market, but Burke is sick and tired of repeating his stance that he will not ask the veteran to waive his no-trade clause. Since Kaberle’s contract has a caveat stating that the clause becomes moot from the June entry draft through Aug. 15 in the event the Leafs miss the 2010 playoffs (which seems to be a fait accompli), the summer seems a more realistic time to move him if Burke chooses to go that route.

True, Burke’s immediate priority is his role as GM of Team USA, which faces off in the Olympic semifinal against Finland on Friday. That hasn’t stopped him from recently chatting with a number of his fellow NHL execs about who might and might not be available.

Still, from a Toronto point of view, the point man for the majority of trade talks is Dave Nonis, Burke’s right-hand man in both Vancouver and Anaheim before following the outspoken Irishman to the Leafs.

Burke trusts Nonis impeccably, and with good reason. His track record shows that when Nonis swings for the fences in a deal, he is capable of smacking a home run at any time.

Anyone seeking proof need only look at Canada’s starting goaltender for the Olympic semifinal against Slovakia, one Roberto Luongo.


56 Responses to Busy deadline ahead for Leafs

  1. reinjosh says:

    I agree with most everything you said but I disagree with the need for a top center. While a top center would be very nice, it certainly is not our biggest need. I will explain my reasoning as I am sure you will want an explanation.

    We already have two second line centers and one of them will win out over the other. It will most likely be Bozak because he is cheaper and younger and he is developing some nice chemistry with Kessel at the moment. Now I understand we need a first line center. It would be nice to have a playmaker to dish to Kessel. But why go out and get one when we have a top line center in the system who is, at the very most, two season away from coming into the league? And why ruin the chemistry two players have together just to get a center who may or may not work out? It doesn't make sense to to the team or the players.

    Why not use Kaberle to get a top 6 winger and a 1st rounder, two things that together fill more of a need than a top line center. Too me that makes more sense than getting a guy with a big contract (although Datsyuk is amazing, there is no need in taking away the spot Kadri was drafted for). Plus we get a first rounder with it to quiet all those naysayers about first rounders. The team gets deeper, more skilled and stays cheaper and younger.

  2. bbruins37 says:

    he's already 26 and playing more minutes than he'd play anywhere else in the league with toronto's center situation.

    while there's no argument that the leafs spent their money horribly in the no-cap era, they still did enough to get into the playoffs every year kaberle was there (between 97-103 points 5 of 6 years, and 90 the other year), so being a plus when you're not in a shutdown role really isn't that impressive.

  3. cam7777 says:

    when quinn was in charge, kaberle was playing 28 minutes per game.  i sincerely doubt they were on the attack for all 28 mintues of his ice time.  he was a plus during that time.  he is a reliable defender.  get it out of your head that he's not.  i know you want to imagine that the leafs will trade him for a bucket of pucks, so you can come on here and tell us how worthless you knew kaberle was all along, but it's just not going to happen.

    your point about grabovski is wrong too.  he only averages 16 minutes of ice-time, which is basically a hybrid of 2nd and 3rd line minutes.  there are SEVERAL teams where grabovski would see improved ice-time.  don't make me look up the stats, check yourself.  grabovski, statistically speaking, would be superior to many team's number 2 center.  actually, your beloved krejci, with a full minute more per game, and 15 extra games, has just 6 more points, and is the same plus/minus despite playing for a team with two vezina quality goalies and the defending norris champion.

  4. bbruins37 says:

    lol again having to compare everything to the bruins. krejci has nothing to do with this but you look for any opportunity to talk about boston. was it grabovski or krejci that had to recover from hip surgery?

    what teams could use grabovski as a second line center? one near 50 point season on a team that plays an up-tempo style and he's awesome…

    as for kaberle i've talked to leafs fans that go on and on about his offense but admit he's pretty poor defensively, some even going as far as wanting to try him out up front. but you can keep saying he's a reliable defenseman

  5. cam7777 says:

    it's amazing how now that it suits your argument, style of play is an important factor.  i seem to recall you saying that such an argument could not be used to discuss niedermayer's offensive output in new jersey vs. lidstrom's in detroit. 

    i'm not trying to discredit the bruiins by bringing up krejci – i have nothing against the guy, and he's a fine player.  i'm trying to discredit you.  you will go on and on about how great the bruins players are, but then, almost hilariously, players with nearly identical, or marginally better stats, who play for the leafs, are deemed to be worthless by you. 

    grabovski would oust the following for 2nd line center duties:

    anaheim – koivu
    atlanta – white
    carolina – brind'amour (though he would have had a harder time w/ Cullen)
    calgary – stajan, langkow
    edmonton – horcoff, o'sullivan, gagner, cogliano
    montreal – gomez
    nashville – legwand
    rangers – who plays what center position varies in new york, but he could easily beat out one of anisimov, drury or dubinsky
    islanders – do they even have a 2nd line center?

    it's nice that some people you've talked to think that.  if you haven't noticed though, a lot of leaf fans don't know what the ***** they are talking about.  i'm sure you are going to hilariously point out that you think i'm one of these people, but i should think we are past that.  surely we are at the point now where we can both concede the other must know a thing or two about hockey.  people who say kaberle is weak defensively are people that place the value of defense in hitting ability, and the strength to not be pushed off the puck.  these are the same people that don't understand what it is that makes lidstrom top notch (positioning and superb stick-work).  kaberle's not going to destroy anyone with a devastating hit, but he what he will do is ride his man into the corner and out of harm's away.  often this appears as if the forward pressing is still pressing forward, but kaberle knows he is skilled enough to win the puck back, and his goal is mainly to keep the guy out danger zones.  it's just a different method. he is perfectly reliable.

    as for krejci, we'll see next year if he returns to form with no hip to use as an excuse.

  6. bbruins37 says:

    i actually backed up the lidstrom thing by showing defensemen that prospered in new jersey.

    there's only a few there that he's actually better than. todd white? he just put up over 70. stajan was literally just ahead of grabovski on the depth chart this season, but you still use that? gomez??? contract aside the guy isn't a bad player. i could go on and on…

    i'm not talkin about judging how good a defenseman is based on physical play. but there's no point in arguing this as it's just me saying he sucks, and you saying he's amazing.

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