With all the recent trades, Leafs Nation must be wondering what’s really running through general manager Brian Burke's mind.
Burke's initial plan was based on a three- to five-year model during this rebuild while being competitive night in and night out and hopefully battling for a playoff berth.
They haven’t even gotten a sniff of the playoffs to this point, and have arguably been competitive, but the plan or model has turned into five to seven years to most observers.
Those playoffs have eluded Burke's grasp to this point are within striking distance, with the Leafs sitting just seven points out. It’s not out of the question that they could slip in, though it will be a tough task with 23 games remaining and a number of desperate teams still to leapfrog.
The Leafs played quite an uninspired game against Ottawa, the first 0-0 game between the two in their history. That was not the sign of a desperate team ready to battle for a postseason berth. They looked totally lost on the power play, and the lack of a puck-moving defenceman after the Tomas Kaberle trade was quite apparent.
What a thing of beauty it would be if the Leafs could squeak into the playoffs after trading away three seemingly key pieces of their team while only receiving one initial roster player back (Joffrey Lupul).
Back to Burke's mind for a moment. It would seem to most that the Leafs are tanking the season by trading away Beauchemin, Kaberle and Versteeg, which wouldn’t bode well for the remaining first round draft pick they traded away for Phil Kessel. Burke, though, has re-acquired two first round picks through his dealings as well as two former first round prospects and a first round roster player (Lupul, the seventh overall pick in 2002).
Can the Leafs slip into the playoffs?
Does Burke think that Leafs Nation has been partially pacified after overpaying for Kessel? He might and we may be.
Burke has certainly re-stocked the Leafs prospects list with the likes of Nazem Kadri, Greg McKegg, Keith Aulie, Jerry D’Amigo, Marcel Mueller, Brad Ross, Luca Caputi and Jesse Blacker, among others. Most recently through trades, he added two former first round picks, Jake Gardiner and Joe Colbourne. Colbourne had an immediate impact with the Marlies, scoring a goal in regulation, and showed off some pretty slick moves in the shootout, scoring as well.
For those that believe Burke is adding too many Americans, he has slid a few Canadian kids in there as well (Caputi, Gysbers, Colbourne, Kadri, Brayden Irwin, McKegg, Ross, and Blacker).
A seemingly glass half-empty or half-full scenario.
Pacified again, maybe.
A brief farewell to a great Leaf, Tomas Kaberle, who in his first postgame interview as a Boston Bruin made me hope somehow that he can retire a Leaf. That stud bled blue and white truly, and will forever. We’ll miss ya, Kabby!
I know I’ve bounced all over the place, but it’s fairly equivalent to the season the Leafs have had up to now, and the roller coaster ride isn’t quite done. There are still a number of loops to go around, and Burke himself said he isn’t finished.
So let's buckle up and hope this mad man at the controls doesn’t derail the car Leafs Nation is strapped into.