NHL Draft 2012: Toronto Maple Leafs' GM Suceeds by Standing with 5th Pick

Jon Reid@@JonReidCSMCorrespondent IIJune 26, 2012

PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 23:  Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Brian Burke talks with Dominic Toninato, 126th overall pick by the Toronto Maple Leafs, during day two of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at Consol Energy Center on June 23, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

With the 2012 NHL entry draft having wrapped up just a few days ago, the dialogue continues around the league as to which teams came out on top, which teams managed to pull off the biggest steals, and which teams were left wanting more.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are no exception, with debate still taking place regarding Brian Burke's controversial decision to draft another two defensemen with his first two picks.

Something very few people are talking about, however, is Burke's choice to stand pat and not trade up for the first or second overall pick.

Leafs fans everywhere love a good debate, but rarely do we universally give the truculent GM the credit he deserves.

Leading up to the draft, some fans were urging Burke to move up in the draft and select Nail Yakupov, even if it would cost the Leafs defenseman Luke Schenn and the fifth overall pick in this year's draft.

Unfortunately for them (and fortunately for the organization), Burke resisted the temptation to snag the young Russian star and opted to stay at No. 5, where he would draft Morgan Rielly.

After using up his final five picks, Burke immediately turned his attention to the trade market.

In the blink of an eye, he engineered a deal that would see Luke Schenn reunited with his little brother Brayden in the "City of Brotherly Love" (Philadelphia), in exchange for the underperforming power-forward and former second overall pick, James van Riemsdyk.

While the draft and subsequent trade may seem like two different occurrences at first glance, the latter would not have been possible had Burke listened to so many hollering for him to acquire the first overall pick in the draft.

If Burke had moved up in the draft it would have undoubtedly cost the Leafs one of their young defensemen (either Schenn or Jake Gardiner), making a deal with Philadelphia extremely unlikely, as it would have left yet another hole in Toronto's blue line.

In the end, Burke could have ended up with Yakupov, but no van Riemsdyk, Rielly or Schenn.

Luckily, Burke was able to recognize that Morgan Rielly and James van Riemsdyk will be more important for the Leafs moving forward than Yakupov on his own.

For that, Brian Burke deserves a fair share of credit, something that Toronto's media and fans are far too reluctant to give.

 

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