With the Toronto Maple Leafs having dropped 15 of their past 17 games, fans are beginning to wonder if significant offseason changes are on the horizon for their favorite team.
GM Brian Burke will be tasked with assessing what wreckage remains after another disappointing season. But if you're one of those fans who expects sweeping changes, don't get too far ahead of yourself.
In an interview with the Star's Damien Cox, Burke laid to rest speculation that his team is deliberately "tanking" down the stretch in order to increase their chances of landing a top-five draft pick and ruled out the notion that his roster needs a major facelift.
"I don’t know what happened," Burke said in reference to his club's meltdown. "But I have no intention of blowing it up. That’s why we kept all our assets at the trading deadline. We still have them, and that gives us lots of options."
Unfortunately, the options that Burke alludes to may not be as monumental as they were just a few weeks ago. At the trade deadline, TSN's Darren Dreger reported that the Leafs had received as many as four offers that would have seen them receive four first-round draft picks in exchange for Luke Schenn, Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolai Kulemin and Clarke MacArthur.
Schenn and Grabovski are signed long-term, so it's doubtful that they will be moved. But it is highly unlikely that the offers for Kulemin and MacArthur will remain in the offseason.
Does it matter anyway?
Can Burke get the Leafs into the playoffs next season?
Let's take a quick look at the situation facing Burke.
The Leafs are about to miss the playoffs for the fourth time during his tenure. The first few years can be set aside for obvious reasons, but results since cannot be overlooked.
Toronto has been, according to him, a playoff-worthy team for the past two seasons.
Whether or not you agree is irrelevant. The proof is in the pudding—and it tastes awful.
But if are amongst those who disagree with Burke's assessment of his team, prepare for disappointment. The man in charge will more than likely have one more chance next season to back up his words.
With his job potentially on the line next year, Burke can ill-afford to trade away assets before then. Unless, of course, he receives players in return instead of draft picks.
This coming offseason, therefore, will be absolutely paramount in determining Burke's future in Toronto.
Most expect him to take another run at acquiring Rick Nash, as well as make an attempt to sign pending UFA Zach Parise.
But will Burke be able to fill the hole at No. 1 center? Will he able to clean up the crease? Will he be able to sort out his team's defensive woes?
These are just a few questions that will be atop his offseason to-do list.
What say you? Is Burke up to the task or will these questions still loom come next season?
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