Brian Burke has been a busy man in the last few weeks, so it's no surprise he took a well-deserved fishing trip this week. The fishing won't stop when he returns; instead of some trout, he'll be hoping to reel in a top six forward to continue to reshape the Leafs.
With the surplus of defensemen, Burke has many bargaining chips at his disposal. These include Tomas Kaberle, Ian White, Mike Van Ryn, and Jeff Finger. So who are some possible assets that could come back to the Leafs as a return for a trade involving these players?
The Sabres are rumored to have a very high interest in Kaberle, and a deal structured around Pominville and a pick/prospect could get the trade done. The Sabres have depth at the forward position with Vanek,Stafford, Roy and Connolly and would like to open a spot for prospect Nathan Gerbe.
Pominville recorded 66 points last season after a 80 point campaign in 2007-08. He could fit in nicely on a line with Mikhail Grabovski and Niklas Hagman.
Laich is right now a second-line player at best, but still a potential top-six forward. Laich scored 53 points last year for the Caps and added another seven in 14 playoff games. The Capitals are in the market for a defenseman and a deal involving Jeff Finger could potentially reel in Laich.
The Blues are another team believed to be pursuing Kaberle, and Backes could quite possibly be part of a package for Tomas. Backes scored 31 goals last season to finish with 54 points on the season. Backes is only 25, so he still has time to develop into an offensive force in the NHL, and like Pominville, Backes is a right winger who could fit well with Grabovski and Hagman.
This deal seems a little far fetched, but according to Al Cimaglia of ESPN, the Blackhawks may be willing to part with Sharp due to the cap issues present in Chicago. His assessment on the return for Sharp is newly acquired Garnett Exelby along with a pick and prospect from the Leafs.
Kessel's name has been thrown around with Kaberle's a lot recently, and talks have been rumoured to be back on between the Leafs and Bruins. Kessel scored 60 points in just 70 games last season for the Bruins.
The Pens lost a key player in Rob Scudari this offseason, so they could be in the market for White or Van Ryn. Kennedy was a solid player for the Pens last season scoring 35 points in 67 games.
Kennedy's only 22, so he could develop further into a top-six forward. Kennedy also plays with an edge which is what Burke is looking for in his young players.Toronto may have to include a mid-round pick along with White or Van Ryn to get a deal like this done.
There is always the option of trading one of the assets for a pick or prospect to free up cap space and sign a top six forward. Tanguay is the best forward still available and could be a nice addition to the Leafs. Tanguay scored 41 points in 50 games for Montreal last season.
The sky seems to be the limit for the Leafs and Brian Burke this offseason, so expect a new forward to join the Leafs in the coming weeks. But right now lets just let Burkie enjoy reeling in the big one, fish that is.