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.