For the Maple Leafs, Deadline Moves Are Just Pt. 1 of the Process

Derek HarmsworthSenior Writer IMarch 5, 2009

While most Toronto Maple Leafs fans all around the world were filling their heads with unrealistic trade expectations and ideas they thought were possible, Leafs GM Brian Burke spent most of the month curbing those expectations, saying it wouldn't be a huge day for the Maple Leafs.

He stuck to his word, making a few deals, most of which involved grabbing a few draft picks, and picked up former Senators castaway goalie Martin Gerber on re-entry waivers.

By the time the trade deadline was done, Burke had added two second-round picks, a fourth-round pick, a conditional pick from the Rangers, and also defenseman Erik Reitz, as well as Olaf Kolzig, Jamie Heward, Andy Rogers, and the aforementioned Gerber.

Kolzig and Heward may never play for the Leafs, as it looks as though Toronto took on their salaries in exchange for the draft pick.

And while Burke said he wasn't doing cartwheels about the moves, he was happy about what they accomplished. And truth be hold, Maple Leafs fans around the world should be too.

Call me the eternal optimist, but the Leafs made some low key moves that could pay off for them in the summer.

As Brian Burke said when he got to Toronto, there is no quick fix. And while some fans weren't happy with the returns in the trades, they may be forgetting one thing.

This was really only step one in the process of reshaping the Toronto Maple Leafs. And for an initial step, it made a pretty good foot print.

The addition of Gerber was a little baffling at first, until it was announced they were shutting Vesa Toskala down, which is no question the right move.

No reason to push Toskala any further on a team that has nothing to play for. While taking on a Senators castoff who was banished by them twice this year isn't something to be proud of, Gerber will likely split time with Curtis Joseph down the stretch, to provide competent goaltending.

Gerber will be an unrestricted free agent at season's end.

The Tampa Bay deal is a little more complex, but the basis is the trading of cap space for a fourth-round draft pick.

Kolzig is out for the year with a torn bicep, after which he becomes a free agent as well. Heward is out indefinitely with a concussion, and is also a UFA at season's end, meaning the two likely won't play for Toronto.  

Rogers is a former first-round pick of the Lightning. The Lightning thought he had a lot of potential when they drafted him, but the 6'5" defenseman has had his career riddled with injuries. He will likely start playing with the Marlies.

The trading of Nik Antropov and Dominic Moore for two second-round picks may have seemed disappointing to some, but the fact is there wasn't any way someone was going to give up a first-rounder for the services of Antropov.

When you consider that the only first-round pick traded during the whole day was Calgary in the deal for Olli Jokinen, second-round returns for Antropov and Moore are pretty decent value. It will be up to the Leafs to draft and develop the proper talent to make those trades a success.

It didn't have the flash that some hoped it would, but there certainly was enough substance that have helped the Leafs along in step one of this process.

And that's really all it was. Step one of the process, possibly a long process.

Step two of course will be this June at the NHL draft, when Brian Burke takes these picks he received yesterday, along with the ones the Maple Leafs already had in the hopper, and turns them into players he thinks can be an important part of this team's future.

As of right now, the Maple Leafs have one first, two seconds, and a single pick in each of the next five rounds. Though with no trade clauses lifted on a player like Pavel Kubina, there is the option that Burke adds a few more picks on draft day.

The draft, and what players may move on that day, will be part two of the process. Part three of course, will be the July 1 free agent period.

The draft and the free agent period have long been the places where Brian Burke puts the full stamp on his teams, and it looks as though that will be the case with the Maple Leafs as well.

Brian Burke would not put a timeline on how long this rebuild would take. But it did take a step in the right direction yesterday afternoon.