Leafs GM ‘working the phones hard’ to improve roster

Leafs GM ‘working the phones hard’

GLENDALE, ARIZ.—Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke says the recent uptick in his team’s performance doesn’t change the fact he’s looking for trades, but the offers certainly have improved.

“When you’re struggling, you’re very popular and the offers you get are mostly garbage,” said Burke. “When you’re playing better, you’re not as popular and the offers you get are better. It definitely makes a difference what cycle your team is in as to what kind of offers you’re fielding.”

Burke says he’s most interested in young prospects or players in their early 20s who can grow with the young group he has assembled.

“I’ve been working the phones really hard,” said Burke. “My phone bill for the last two weeks could feed a small country. It’s hard in a cap system … we haven’t been able to come up with anything that makes sense.

“Obviously it takes some pressure off if the team is winning.”

The Leafs have moved into 12th in the Eastern Conference standings with a four-game winning streak.

“You have to give the players credit. It’s a different look, it’s a different feel and we’re getting different results,” said Burke. “Part of it is goaltending, part of it is special teams. The attitude of the team is positive. Picking up points on the road is crucial to try to get back in the hunt.

“We’re out of the cellar in the division and we’re breathing down the neck of the next team above us. It’s all you can do to crawl back into the race.”

Burke praised his Marlies call-ups — goalie James Reimer, winger Joey Crabb and centre Darryl Boyce — for their part in the turn of the team fortunes.

“With James, he calms things down. He’s placid in the net. He’s very economical. It lends itself to calm play on the rest of the team. He’s a wall,” said Burke.

“I want to caution people with James, it has been a short run. He’s played extremely well. He’s a kid. This prosperity could end at any time for a young player. We’re not putting too much weight on him, or too big a burden on him.”

Crabb has helped ignite the offence of Phil Kessel and Tyler Bozak, while Boyce has fit in as the third-line centre between wingers Colby Armstrong and Kris Versteeg.


177 Responses to Leafs GM ‘working the phones hard’ to improve roster

  1. TheLeafNation91 says:

    Brunnstrom looked good in his first two Marlie games, he was very strong and dominating

  2. leafmeister says:

    Now you want two of Parise, Weber and Stamkos? Yikes. 1 is an extreme longshot. In regards to Weber, Yeah, I would love to have him. I think he is gonna be a Norris candidate. However, the blueline is already expensive, and trading forward assets for another D-man may be ill-advised. Especially considering the fact that Phaneuf is here for the long run, for better or for worse.

    Hypothetically, the Leafs get Weber and Parise. Both of whom cost 6.5 at least. Then you want Richards too, who would cost another 6. 30 mil in 5 players. No picks, no prospects. Youngsters are one of the only ways to get quality in the line-up for cheap, but if we want all these vets, we have to ditch a lot of the youth. Realistically getting those two would cost us Schenn, Kadri maybe Kulemin, somewhere in the deal, so there goes more quality. It just would not be a well balanced roster, and could be pretty easy to shutdown come playoff time.

    In the cap world its not just what you give up, its how you are going to replace the cheap depth you are giving up.

    This has become too focused on the specific players rather than the overall direction of picks/prospects for next year, then build on that for the year after.

    I have not written off the Kessel trade just yet, but the thought of Seguin or Hall at a rookie rate for 3 years, then probably another top 5 or higher this year sounds very appealing.

    Answer me this, what if the Leafs had waited until this summer before making a jump at a big name. What if they had waited, selected Seguin, grabbed Adam Larsson this year, and then traded 2 1sts, a 2nd and some prospects for Parise, or hell, 4 1sts for Stamkos. Your telling me they wouldnt be better off?

    A foundation of Seguin, Kadri, Schenn, Larsson, Kulemin, maybe Phaneuf (if the same trade was made in this hypothetical scenario). Add Parise to that, and you could get a great team. Add Parise to this, and you get a good team. You cant skip steps.

  3. mojo19 says:

    Ya Kessel is really amazing. I also wouldn't trade him for anyone except a superstar like Crosby, Stamkos, E.Staal, Ovechkin etc.

    Oh by the way, Sundin was a demigod for scoring 30? What Toronto did you live in for the last 20 years? Sundin was bashed every year, people calling into the radio stations saying to take the 'C' away from him, countless articles on here that had him shipped out in various fantasy Leaf prediction line ups, only to be replaced by Sergei Fedorov or whomever. Sundin never got the respect he deserved, he was always referred to as a 'B' superstar, a guy who couldn't make the team/players around him better, and a failure for never pulling the team over the top. He retired at 25th in the NHL's all time scoring list but you'd never guess that by listening to the people of Toronto.

  4. Leafs_the_word says:

    Yeah, that was the original point, package for one (I took out our 1st and put in Kadri) and offer Stamkos a long term near max giving up four firsts for him or Parise (offer Parise something in the 8 range).  Clearly we'd have to eat some contract on the back end by burying Komisarek (but yeah, if you can make that move in your plan why can't I do the same.  We have 4 million in space already, another 10.5 with Giguere and Kaberle  leaving. That with demoting Komisarek along with Grabo's and Kadri smaller hits would leave us wiggle room.  It's about spending for quality.

    It's not like the cupboards would be bare, we're the youngest team in the league we'd still have McKegg, Hanson, Mueller, Ross ect… we find a plugger or two for our bottom six or back end of our blueline like all teams always do (players other than 1st round picks can develop too).

    If you keep waiting to get that perfect forward at 4-5 million you'll wait years and it's a gamble of time and assets. I can't justify gambling the future of the team on penny stocks. 

    Yeah, and that Wilson and the other jobber is going to make noise in the playoffs? Please.

    We never had a shot at Hall, Boston wanted him and has more to offer than Toronto and Edmonton wasn't willing to move down.  Seguin has been unspectacular though he might become a superstar, he's hardly a phenom though. It remains to seen where we finish this season, I don't expect to give up a top five pick.

    I don't need to visit some revisionist history where we don't trade for Kessel, it happened, no sense whining about it.  Though I have no idea to say whether or not we'd be better off because it remains to be seen what Seguin becomes and where we finish this year.  I'd gladly trade two first every two seasons for a superstar player.  Adding an elite talent every two seasons should be a no brainer for any GM.

    Kadri is looking like a bust, Seguin has been meh, Larsson is an assumption that we would be in a spot to get him and Kulemin is an ok winger not a building block.  So I'll take Kessel, Parise, Phaneuf, Weber leaving us one other big part of the puzzle up in the air (great teams tend to carry five big contracts). Let the offer pieces fall where they may.

  5. mojo19 says:

    You guys are actually both really right here. The reason Detroit has been the most succesful team of the last 15 years is because they've been amazing at drafting and at picking up UFA's, and at making good trades. I don't think there is anything wrong with trading first round picks if you get the right kind of impact player back. But I also don't agree with the word that the plan should be to trade first round picks. These are an asset you move if the right deal is there, it shouldn't be your plan to move the picks.

  6. mojo19 says:

    Good to hear it. Hope to see him get a call up soon. Who knows, we might have a real good player here.

  7. Leafs_the_word says:

    Well when we trade them on the fly we end up Toskala and Raycroft.  Planning isn't a bad idea.

  8. Leafs_the_word says:

    I'm talking about the guy that got a standing ovation despite setting this franchise back for years.  Had he waived the NMC the others would have followed and Fletcher would be hailed a genius. 

  9. TheLeafNation91 says:

    He's ready to make a new start in Toronto, he has skill, size, speed, etc but its all about putting together. He never did that in Dallas, and he has the opportunity now

    Also, i'll say it once and i'll say it again as I did two years ago, he should of chosen Toronto at the time of his free-agency hype. Dallas, Vancouver, and Detroit are great places but Toronto would of given him the freedom to grow as a player, while those teams could not

  10. reinjosh says:

    I gotta side with Word here. Most people put a ridiculous price on a 1st round pick. They want that superstar that they think is synonymous with first round picks (completely unjustified too). So why not trade for that superstar? Getting a player like Parise or Stamkos or Weber is incredibly unlikely as it is. Grab the guaranteed asset and your good.
    As you said though, Detroit is successful because they are great at drafting and pro scouting. The thing is they hardly ever draft in the first round and when they do its really not all that great of a pick. Since 2000, the Red Wings have drafted a grand total of 5 times. At this point, the only player they drafted in the first round that could be considered an impact player, is Nik Kronwall. They have a worst first round record than the Leafs do in the past ten years. They succeed because of late round picks. Something the Leafs haven't really ever been terrible at and are actually improving in. There are 6 other rounds in the NHL entry draft for a reason. Detroit succeeds because they focus on those rounds. I'm more convinced than ever.

    First round picks are a huge asset that should be exploited. If your in the top ten, I have no issue with a team keeping them but I think to the Leafs right now, they mean more to us as trade assets.

  11. reinjosh says:

    It seems the change has done him some good. 3 assists in two games is pretty decent. Its really a no loss deal for us.

  12. Leafs_the_word says:

    Not to mention Burke can capitalized on the perception that Boston won the trade, our 1st round picks are at an all time high in terms of trade value.

  13. nordiques100 says:

    Burke's going to have to bite the bullet and ask some of his guys to waive their clauses if he wants to make an impact.

    I was reading Damian Cox and his mailbag.

    Someone asked him a question on Kaberle and a contract extension and his reply was the leafs probably have no interest in re-signing him.

    If that is the case, BB cannot just sit on his hands on this one.

    sorry, if he doesn't have either the will or the stomach to ask a player to waive, then he best step aside.

    yeah back in the day when he was a winning GM, that may have worked when like 3 players had these clauses. I bet now there's about half the league with NTC/NMC.

    get use to it.

    otherwise, him not even accepting a 1st and a prospect from the sharks or even Malone or something for Kaberle last summer can be rated as one of the biggest bonehead moves in leafs recent history….including the JFJ era. letting him just walk for nothing is plain idiotic.

    Yeah, its like a broken record with Kaberle, but really, lets call a spade a spade here. If he doesn't want him, why not trade him? And if that clause and asking a player to waive it is all that is standing in the way, well then BB is not just a failure but an epic failure as the leafs GM.

    and don't give that shit about "well we get cap space". that's meaningless unless he goes after hard for guys like Semin or Richards.

    Instead he has proven he wants to only sign Dmen.

    your track record means nothing to us Brian. Do something for your current team instead of living off the one cup ring you have.

    Who do you think you are? Glenn Healy? Pierre MacGuire?

  14. DannyLeafs says:

    If nothing else Burke went out and replaced the biggest asset he lost in the deal for versteeg. Sure you can say that Stahlberg and Brunnstrom are different players, but realistically, they have almost identical skill sets and its pretty much a coin flip as to which one is more likely to succeed. Everything about them is so similar it's scary

    Stahlberg-LW -L- (24) 6'3, 210 lbs
    83 GP 16 G 13 A -13

    Brunnstrom-LW -L- (25) 6'2 212 lbs
    99 GP 19 G 21 A -11

    They really have the same complaint about them as well. Neither is polished defensively, and they both have all the tools to be impact players, but need to put it all together.

    I would probably take Stahlberg over Brunnstrom, but it's really more of a preference based on him being one of our own picks. Although, Brunnstrom does have that wild card hope of possibly just having needed a change of scenary. Truthfully, he wasn't going to force his way into Dallas top six anyway, with Neal, Ericsson, Benn, and Morrow already occupying those roles he had little to no real shot, and that likely demotivated him somewhat.

    I agree with an earlier comment that he chose somewhat poorly. At the time it didn't look it, but right now Dallas has one of the best group of wingers in the NHL, and with the way they have been drafting them, this wasn't a great place to go for a guy that had something to prove.

  15. leafmeister says:

    Look at Chicago. They had superstars like you mention, Kane, Toews, Keith, Seabrook, which is a better core than the Leafs could hope for, but look at how important their "pluggers" were. Byfuglien, Versteeg, Ladd, Sopel, etc… If they had done it your way, they would have traded all of those guys in the process of acquiring the core. If you want the most possible skill in your line up, you draft wisely, acquire prospects hoping one will be a cornerstone. If not, you have enough depth prospect wise, and secondary player wise to move a few to bring in your superstars, should one be available. Although I believe the only way the Leafs are going to acquire a true superstar is through the draft.

    Kadri is only a bust in Canada. In any American market young players can go up and down from the AHL to NHL without the press and all the fans shitting themselves. Kadri has transitioned to the AHL nicely, another summer of adding bulk and he should be ready.

    True, but without Kessel, we could have finished 30th rather than 29th.

    Seguin is not playing too much these days. We cant judge him until he gets proper ice time.

  16. realistic_leafs_fan says:

    I agree that Kaberle should be moved if there is no interest to re-sign him. There is one thing that most people forget to look at when it comes to Burke and not asking players to waive NTC's.

    Burke refusing to ask them to waive is one of the reasons players want to play for Burke. He makes it clear what he expects from a player and will sit them in the minors or trade them (Blake, Toskala for example) if they act up or don't perform. But he also respects the deals the team has given them.

    His reputation helped land free agents like Gustavsson, Bozak, Rynnas etc etc. There is two sides to this issue. If Burke goes against his word…players will be less likely to want to come to Toronto. Guys like Richards and Semin may think twice about signing with a guy who goes against his word and therefore is a liar who cannot be trusted. Reputation is huge for a GM…look what has recently happened to Lou's in Jersey.

    Burke can relay offers he likes to Kaberle's agent and let thim know if he would like to move he will make it happen. If Kaberle doesn't want to move, that is his right and for all the good years he has put in here he doesn't deserve to be treated like he owes Toronto anything. Fans b*tch when players show no loyality but when are we going to show any. This reminds me of the Sundin issue…Sundin deserved more loyalty from the fans and so does Kaberle. Good for Burke to stand by what he believes. His loyalty will help us bring players to Toronto.

    I know I am one of the few, but I like most of Burkes moves. We are younger, faster and better in goal since he got here. We also have some prospects to develop for once. What does everyone expect in two years from where this franchise was? Komisarek has been the only real disaster. I don't mind Beauchimen and the Kessel deal is a few years off to see if it was worth it.

    I am not sure what real deals were on the table for Kaberle in the summer. I do like the ones you mentioned and agree Burke should have taken either of them. Are they real or rumours though?

  17. reinjosh says:

    Thats a really good point about him choosing. To be fair though, Eriksson and Neal hadn't broken out yet so seeing as he wasn't a scout, its not like he royally screwed up that choice. just some bad luck.

    Thats an interesting point on Stalberg. I was always a big fan of Stalberg and was sad to see him leave. Maybe Brunnstrom goes a little to make up for that loss.

  18. mojo19 says:

    Believe me, I would have no issue giving up first round picks and/or prospects for Stamkos, Weber, or Parise.

  19. mojo19 says:

    Some of us choose to acknowledge how great he was, that's why he got the ovation, others, like you did boo him when he returned, you could hear some boo's in the background so I guess there were those who felt both ways.

    Also he didn't set the franchise back, he just didn't help to set it ahead. 😉 think about that for a while

  20. Leafs_the_word says:

    He was getting booed and then they hit the lights put on a video that told the crowd to cheer and they bite.  Leaf fans are sheep, (not at shot directed at you, you account for your positions).

    Semantics aside he screwed us over then walked for another 'journey'. I have no pity privileged people that don't give back, remember Sundin doesn't care about the fans but we're supposed to care about him?

  21. Leafs_the_word says:

    Well look at who Chicago kept, should they done it 'your way' and trade Toews, Kane, Seabrook for a ton of picks and keep their depth while developing an excessively amount of depth??? No, they did what any GM would have done and kept the core, you build on cores players not depth.  You get depth with the hope of finding a core player. You get depth with the hope of finding a cornerstone.

    The Byfugliens, Ladds, Sopel are entirely replacable, lulz, Sopel what a pivotal piece! The expection is Byfuglien because he's established himself as an elite player.  Chicago proved that the Versteegs, Ladds, Sopels are expendable.  I don't your point here anyway because don't you want the Leafs to trade these guys to get Wilson type mediocre prospects? 

    So Kadri can't play in Canada?  Maybe it would be prudent to not target players like him that can't swim in this market.

    If we can't judge Seguin then stop shoving his assumed greatness down everyone's throat.  You're basically saying I can't judge him but you can.

    In the interest of transparency, you are Cam right, these taste like his lines of reasoning.

  22. mojo19 says:

    Ya I was mad about that too for a while but I can't help it, he was my favourite player, he carried us for so long, the good out weighs the bad for me. But you're not the only guy I know who feels that way, so its cool.

  23. realistic_leafs_fan says:

    Sundin screwed Toronto fans? Are you serious?

    The guy gave everything to Toronto and when he said he wanted to retire a Leaf it was the fans who said, "get out, waive your NTC so we can improve our team by you leaving". I don't blame him for not waiving his NTC. It was the Leafs fans who screwed him not the other way around. Leaf fans b*tch and complain about loyalty and playing to potential yet a guy who gave years to this franchise and leaves as the all-time leader you complain about as well.
    Fletcher should have never went public in order to try and pressure those guys to waive their NTC's. It was a classless thing of Fletcher to do and the Leafs fans didn't help the situation. If you noticed, the next year no one wanted to sign here…I wonder why?

  24. mojo19 says:

    Also consider that he would have been dealt for Grabovski, Higgins and a 1st round pick. So we would have probably have let go of Higgins by now, or maybe we'd still have him as a 3rd/4th liner and we would have saved the 2nd round pick and Greg Patteryn that was dealt for Grabo later, and we'd have the late 1st round pick which could have been anyone picked around there, and so far no one in that draft has amounted to anything.

    So I don't know if that trade really held us back that much and if you want to blame Sundin for Kubina not waiving his NTC that's fine, we missed out on Kyle MacLaren (he's retired now), that deal was a salary dump anyways, Kubina's value was low, he actually picked up his play after that deadline.

    The only real question is whether or not Kaberle would have waived if not for Sundin refusing because the return was Carter and a 1st, but that's all speculative, Kaberle has refused to waive on a couple of occasions and is pretty particular about where he'll move so there's no real way to tell if he'd have moved regardless.

    The blaming of Sundin is kind of misguided but its something some people do to cope with the current state of the team.

  25. leafmeister says:

    No. The idea is to DRAFT elite players like Toews, Kane and Seabrook, and get cheap quality prospects like Versteeg, Byfuglien, and Ladd to fill the rolls. Everyone was brought in all at once.

    How exactly has Chicago proved that? They have had a pretty average season. The depth they lost was important.

    I misspoke. Kadri is only considered a bust in Canada. Bouncing around early in the career is pretty typical.

    Who exactly is Cam?

  26. DannyLeafs says:

    I agree that it wasn't as terrible a choice then as it looks now, and I guess he was somewhat drawn to a place where there was room to improve at forward, but would also guarantee him playing alongside a good playmaking center. I never thought about it at the time I made the last post, but when you look back, you had two emerging wingers, a verteran winger, and an open spot where Brunnstrom could be sure he would at least get good ice time early on. So there was a top six spot for him when he signed. To be fair to him, it was probably the only scenario he could have walked in and been assured top six playing time, while at the same time, be assured he played with a talented playmaker (was going to play with either Reibero or Richards) and another talented forward. Kind of the best of both worlds. Looking back, I would have to say based on what he knew then, he made the right choice.

  27. Leafs_the_word says:

    Who did Chicago decide to keep? Not those dime a dozen lunch box crew, they keep their best players.  

    Chicago's season is meaningless, you're going to call them a failure because they're not on top of their conference?

    Bouncing around is typical, so is 7th overall picks becoming LNH journeymen. 

    Getting a lot of picks to draft a bunch Tlustys (Tluties?) is just about the worst the rebuilding plan I can think of.

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