Leafs likely to go trade route

When you have missed the playoffs for a fifth consecutive season and are void of high draft picks, there’s not much hope to sell in an NHL off season.

So many Maple Leafs fans will buy into the notion that Canada Day truly could be free-agent frenzy for the team and that their wheeling-dealing general manager will somehow do something to spin this thing around.

Reality, on the other hand, is considerably more sobering.

The inherent problem with such optimism (desperation?) is that even if Burke has the best free-agent day in the history of NHL general managers, miracle fixes are not forthcoming.

Burke showed late Wednesday his willingness to belly up to the table when he acquired forward Kris Versteeg from the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks in a deal that must be scored as an immediate upgrade.

As for the big day, the bold Leafs president has wisely stayed away from tipping his hand regarding free agency. If the consensus speculation is true, however, Burke has next to no interest in the one true impact player available.

That would be Ilya Kovalchuk, who is not a Burke player on a couple of crucial counts.

For one, he is expensive, both in terms of money and term and for another, his Euro diva act doesn’t seem to mesh with the type of character he is trying to create in the Leafs’ dressing room.

That said, Burke has maintained he will be active Thursday and, as we saw the previous night, you can take that to the bank.

He can still have a big day too, but given the state of his current team and the dearth and depth of quality available on this year’s bear market, don’t expect the world.

Rather than the highlight appeal of Kovalchuk, it is expected the Leafs will go for more little victories like the Versteeg acquisition, consequently upgrading the quality of the roster.

For sure, Canada Day 2010 promises to be a quieter affair than a year ago. You will remember that Burke spent the first day of free agency in Sweden in a futile attempt to nab the Sedin twins.

That didn’t stop Burke and Nonis from making a splash, however. Desperate for help on the back end, Mike Komisarek was signed as was fighting forward Colton Orr. Five days later, former Anaheim D-man Francois Beauchemin was added and some $10 million later, Burke’s first free agent foray as Leafs GM had to be considered at least a modest success.

This year, his options are limited, which is why Burke and Nonis seem as focused on possible trades as free-agent signings.


62 Responses to Leafs likely to go trade route

  1. PatsLeafs says:

    Kulemin signed to 2 year 4.7 mil

    2.35 mil a year…great job burkie

  2. DannyLeafs says:

    He played some, but not a lot. I was just stressing the fact that a UFA with good intangibles who has had a 20 goal year, and cracked 40 points before should get paid a little more than an RFA who hasn't, especially when you would ideally have them both playing on the third line. I think a Armstrong – Bozak – Kulemin line would be a great 3rd line that would be solid defensively and add some very good offense for a 3rd line.

    Biggest problem is that the Leafs don't have 6 forwards right now that would push these guys to the third line, but hopefully down the road that is the role they would be able to play.

  3. leafmeister says:

    Fantastic signing. Burke got him down from 3 to 2.35. We have two more years at a great price to see if he is the real deal.

  4. leafy says:

    Really good deal for the Leafs. Nice job by Burke.

    Kulemin is now set to put up lots of points. He's the real Tlusty.

  5. leafy says:

    We have got to get a center. Doesn't necessarily have to be a stud. Just someone reliable, even if it's for one season.

  6. leafy says:

    The latest rumor is Kaberle to L.A. and Burke is still trying to get Savard.

    Let's hear from the creative Leafs fans, because I'm getting too old for this s***. Who do you see the Leafs getting from L.A. for Kabs? 


  7. leafy says:

    What's up with Paris Hilton? Apparently got caught with some weed. I wouldn't mind being locked up in the big house with her. haha!


  8. mojo19 says:

    Fair enough. We really need a big centre to move Bozak down. I love Tyler Bozak, I'm just not confident with him as a #1 centre.

  9. mojo19 says:

    yep, and he has to be over 6'0" at least!

  10. mojo19 says:

    Wonder if Burke will re-visit a deal involving Braden Schenn?

    Bob MacKenzie said that the Kings will not part with Simmonds in a deal for Kaberle. Justin Williams (28) hasn't been healthy his whole career but is an interesting player. Jaret Stoll (28) is a quality guy but hardly brings the type of offensive young guy we'd be looking for.

    I'd be happy with a trade like this:

    Kaberle for:
    Braeden Schenn,
    Michael Handzus (salary reasons – leaves them room to sign Kovalchuk as MH's salary offsets TKab's, and would give us a big centre for 1 season.)
    (and a prospect).

    This isn't exactly the immediate help of a young guy we were maybe hoping for but Schenn could possibly step right in and play.

    Another possibility could be if they packaged something with Jack Johnson but maybe I'm swinging for the fences too much here. I don't know because Johnson only signed last year for $1.4 million per season, so obviously his value couldn't have been that high. Granted, now he's coming off a career year so this might be impossible.

  11. LeafsneedSteen says:

    Gotta love Shoalts, saying ever Leaf player gives value while we continue to miss the playoffs, he's never met a player he doesn't like in the blue & white.

    Have to figure Burke is big on Brown, young bruiser with top six potential, would fill our need for a Gary Roberts type winger.

  12. mojo19 says:

    I can't see the Kings trading their captain though. But ya I would love Dustin Brown. Also Brown is avearging 27 goals per season in his last 3 seasons, so I think its fair to say he's a legit top 6 guy.

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