Brian Burke should be fired. That is the sentiment of many Leaf fans after Burke did not make a move to improve the Leafs' playoff chances this season.
While the Leafs' playoff chances may suffer with the lack of moves at the deadline, Burke is still doing a good job as general manager. He might have failed to improve the team this year, but one look at his work as GM should make you think otherwise.
Over the past few years, Burke has added players, both in the NHL and the minor leagues, that will make the team better in the long run. A desperate-for-the-playoffs fan might want success now, but as they say, patience is a virtue.
Let's look at the players Burke has acquired by trade:
Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf, Joffrey Lupul, Jake Gardiner, John-Michael Liles, Matthew Lombardi, Cody Franson, David Steckel, Keith Aulie
Most of these players form the core of the current Maple Leafs team. Seeing that the Leafs are one of the youngest teams in the league, this core could be together for a long time.
Now look at the top prospects that Burke has collected by both draft and trades:
Joe Colborne, Nazem Kadri, Brad Ross, Tyler Biggs, Carter Ashton, Greg McKegg, Jerry D'Amigo, Jesse Blacker, Stuart Percy
These players will be ready to play in the NHL in the coming seasons, if they aren't already. Once these players are ready to make the jump, players on the current roster might be moved for assets they'll need in the future.
Is Brian Burke the right man for the job as Leafs general manager?
The only facet in which Burke can be criticized for is his work in free agency. Here's the list:
Mike Komisarek, Clarke MacArthur, Tyler Bozak, Tim Connolly, Colby Armstrong, Colton Orr, Francois Beauchemin, Jonas Gustavsson, Phillippe Dupuis
Now, the problem isn't that these are bad players, it's the amount of money they make that irks fans. If they didn't make as much as they did, fans would have no problem with them. With two of them playing in the minors and one traded away, Burke has shown that he can realize his mistakes and fix them.
With Burke at the helm, the Leafs have become a better team. They may not make the playoffs this year and even if they do, they probably won't make it that far, but the Leafs are in good shape for the future. Give it a season or two, and the Maple Leafs will once again be one of top playoff contenders.