NHL: Analyzing Brian Burke's Transaction Trilogy

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NHL: Analyzing Brian Burke's Transaction Trilogy
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Well hockey world, you knew it was coming.

Brian Burke, the GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs, has made a series of moves, shipping the likes of Francois Beauchemin and Kris Versteeg out of town, and bringing in a few draft picks, a prospect, and some players.

Let us break down the three trades that occurred over the past week:

 

Trade 1:

Toronto trades D Francois Beauchemin to Anaheim, in exchange for F Joffrey Lupul, D Jake Gardiner (prospect), and a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.

In exchange for the underachieving Beauchemin, the Leafs received perennial inconsistent goal scorer Joffrey Lupul, D Jake Gardiner—a 2008 first round draft pick of the Ducks (17th overall) who has potential, but who's impact remains to be seen—as well as a conditional fourth rounder in the '13 Draft.

In my opinion, the Ducks won this trade, not by a landslide, but definitely a win. The Ducks get back a defenseman who has had success with them in the past, and is likely more suited to suceed playing for coach Randy Carlyle once again.

Plus, he will provide the Ducks with more playoff experience (even if it came with the Ducks), and you have to believe adding Beauchemin will only help the development of Cam Fowler, who has a lot he can learn from a player like Beauchemin.

Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Francois Beauchemin

You could just get the sense he didn't fit into the Leafs' style of play, but regardless, the Leafs are certainly not better without him at the point. It's not like they have a defenseman to call up that is better than Beauchemin.

In return, the Leafs do address a glaring need on their roster by adding Joffrey Lupul: offensive production. He'll score goals, then won't score, then will score, as the frustration of Leafs Nation will continue to mount.

Joffrey Lupul is likely the most inconsistent scorer the game has seen in a long time. There are times when he looks like a re-incarnation of Brett Hull, and other times when he looks more like, well, Tony Hrkac. Don't know who Tony Hrkac is? Exactly my point.

To the Leafs' credit, they do get a solid young  defenseman in Jake Gardiner, and the conditional draft pick, so those are added bonuses, especially if Gardiner develops into the type of player Brian Burke obviously believes he can be.

The only way the Leafs will win this trade, is if the following two things happen: 1) Joffrey Lupul scores on a consistent basis, and 2) Jake Gardiner develops into a quality NHL defenseman.

Either way, the Ducks certainly benefit far more than Toronto in the short-term from this deal.

 

Trade 2:

Claus Andersen/Getty Images
Kris Versteeg

Toronto trades F Kris Versteeg to Philadelphia, in exchange for first and third round picks in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

This is an interesting move. The offensively anemic Maple Leafs lose a quality top-six forward in Versteeg, but they receive two draft picks in the upcoming draft.

I don't think there's a loser on either side of this deal—both teams have much to be excited about in the aftermath of this deal.

What surprises me is how quickly Versteeg was dealt, considering Burke clearly targeted him in the offseason, making a trade with the salary-cap straddled Chicago Blackhawks.

The fact that he has been dealt away less than a year into his contract is definitely a bit of a shocker. On the other hand, the Maple Leafs were able to get excellent value for Versteeg.

Essentially, Burke was able to get better value for Versteeg than the 'Hawks did when they traded him to Toronto, as Chicago merely received Viktor Stalberg (a third-line forward at best) and two minor league players.

For a team like the Toronto Maple Leafs, who are no doubt in a re-build, the addition of these two draft picks was an excellent move.

The Flyers definitely gain from this deal, adding a very versatile top-six forward in Versteeg, who will be able to play on either of Philly's top two lines, which are already filled with offensively talented players such as Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, and Daniel Briere.

Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Aaron Voros

The Flyers are a more dangerous team as a result of this trade.

 

Trade 3:

Toronto trades a seventh-round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft to Anaheim, in exchange for F Aaron Voros.

In a decision to hook up with the Ducks again, this move is a low-risk, potentially decent reward trade for Brian Burke and the Maple Leafs. It's a relatively minor move, but it's an opportunity for Toronto to add some depth to its roster.

Voros, a 30 year-old forward who has bounced between the AHL and NHL several times during his career, will report to the Maple Leafs' AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies.

This move is probably a result of the Versteeg trade, as the Leafs will have to recall a forward from the Marlies to replace him in the lineup, creating a hole in the minor league team's roster.

Voros will fit in well as a checking line forward who plays a solid two-way game.

 

Bottom Line:

Brian Burke is sending a message with these trades, that the Toronto Maple Leafs are still very much in a re-building stage.

While it is possible that Burke felt Versteeg had become expendable as a result of adding Joffrey Lupul, the fact remains that the main returns from these trades were draft picks and a potentially high-quality defensive prospect.

The Maple Leafs are a very young, inexperienced team, and are still ways away from becoming a contender.

That being said, Brian Burke clearly has them headed in the right direction. Leafs Nation will just have to be a little more patient.

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