NHL

The Bay Street Bullies Are Back: Burke Sticks to His Word

MONTREAL, QC - JUNE 27:  Kenny Ryan speaks to General Manager Brian Burke of the Toronto Maple Leafs organization after he was drafted by the Leafs in the second round during the 2009 NHL Entry Draft at the Bell Centre on June 27, 2009 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Joseph CosentinoCorrespondent IJuly 10, 2009

The last couple weeks have been a tumultuous ride for Leaf fans. Could it be the excitement is coming back in Leaf land?

June 23, NHL entry draft, The Leafs draft Nazem Kadri seventh overall.

The 18-year-old had 53 assists and 78 points for London Knights of the OHL in 2008–2009 playing alongside John Tavares.  He was signed to a three-year entry level contract yesterday, but it’s most likely he will be spending another year in the Ontario Hockey League.

The 18-year-old adds tenacity and flair to his game, something that Burke looks for in the kid.

July 1 was a busy day for Burke. He signed big rugged forward Colton Orr to a four-year contract at $1.1 million per season.

At 6'3'' and 220 pounds, Orr provides much needed size and toughness to an already undersized forward unit. The big splash came later on that day when he acquired blueliner Mike Komisarek from the Montreal Canadiens and was able to unload defenseman Pavel Kubina to Atlanta for bruising defenseman Garnett Exelby and prospect Colin Stuart.

At 6'4'' and 240 pounds, Komisarek adds front-line experience to an already crowded blue line. This is well complemented by the addition of Garnett Exelby and his 6'1'', 217 pound frame.

July 6, the Leafs Acquired defenseman Francois Beauchemin from Anaheim.

In Beauchemin, the Leafs get a player that averaged over 20 minutes a game and provided steady defense, but could also chip in offensively when needed. With the addition of Beauchemin the Leafs now have over 10 players of NHL calibre on defense.

The odd D men out, possibly Finger or Kaberle through a trade. Nonetheless, Come September, training camp will promise to be fierce and competitive at the blue line.

July 7, the Leafs acquire the Swedish Monster, Jonas Gustavsson.

The 24-year-old Swedish goalie appeared in 42 games last year with Farjestads of the Swedish Elite League and posted a 1.96 GAA and .932 save percentage.  In the playoffs he allowed 14 goals in 13 games, posting a .961 save percentage and 6 shutouts.

The addition of Gustavsson is sure to put pressure on No. 1 goalie Vesa Toskala. History has proven that Toskala performs better when under pressure from his backup, as was evident when he had those goaltending battles with Evgeni Nabakov of San Jose.  

While still in need of a top six forward and a huge middle in defense, Burke has so far kept his word of doing what it takes to make this team hard to play against. It's not a certainty that these moves will elevate the Leafs to a playoff position but the 2009-2010 season is bound to be an interesting one in Leaf Land.

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