Toronto Maple Leafs: 10 Reasons Brian Burke Is Doing a Great Job
Brian Burke is doing a great job in fixing, retooling and remodelling the Toronto Maple Leafs.
I know, I know. It's a bold statement, but that doesn't make it untrue.
The past couple of weeks have been some of the most eventful in Leaf history. It witnessed the next steps in the complete face-lift of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Francois Beauchemin, Kris Versteeg, Tomas Kaberle and a conditional seventh-round pick were all shipped out of Ontario's capital, while Joffrey Lupul, Aaron Voros, two first-round picks, a third-round pick, prospects Jake Gardiner and Joe Colborne, a conditional second-round pick and a conditional fourth-rounder came in.
If I had been saying that instead of typing it, I'd be out of breath.
Burke has made a substantial amount of moves, and what makes that even more exciting is the fact that he isn't done yet.
He has expressed interest in acquiring another forward and defenceman, as well as trading his recently-acquired draft picks. Heck, one of the picks he traded for was offered to another team immediately.
Brian Burke's multitude of moves have greatly effected the Leafs of today and the Leafs of the future. Here are the top 10 reasons why he's done a great job in the past few weeks.
**This slideshow is not judging Burke's performance as a whole, but simply the moves he's made in the past month.
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Aaron Voros was simply not working out in Anaheim.
While he's not a player who can impact your team that much, Brian Burke realized he could get Voros out of Anaheim for virtually nothing.
The only way the Leafs will owe Anaheim anything for Voros is if he re-signs at the end of this season, in which case Anaheim's seventh-round draft pick (previously acquired by Toronto) will be shipped out.
Voros scored eight goals and 16 points as a member of the Rangers in 2008-09.
Phil Kessel is one of the players who will have to step up if the Leafs want a shot at making the playoffs.
Despite three of the Leafs core players being traded, Burke is still optimistic the Leafs will have a shot at the playoffs. The Leafs are currently seven points out of the final spot in the East.
"We have not conceded the last playoff spot, nor will we," he said.
In a recent press conference, Burke said he would like to make a move for a young player who could help the team now. If that were to happen, the Leafs' playoff chances would be greatly boosted.
Aware of Team's Depth
One of the biggest trades of the past few weeks was the Francois Beauchemin deal, which saw him be sent to Anaheim in exchange for Joffrey Lupul, Jake Gardiner and a conditional draft pick.
Beauchemin had been thrown around in trade rumors for the longest time, but the idea of moving him brought up a little concern, as he consistently played over 20 plus minutes per game for the Leafs.
Enter 6'5" Keith Aulie, the man who played a large part in the Beauchemin deal.
Burke knew just how well Aulie had been playing in the AHL, so he knew he could safely move Beauchemin and have Aulie replace him in the big leagues.
Thus far, Aulie has topped 18 minutes of ice time in four of the five games he's played since the Beauchemin trade, and has played big minutes on the penalty kill in each match.
Staying Competitive by Making Up for Recently Traded Players
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It's no secret that Brian Burke has traded three of the major Toronto Maple Leaf roster players recently.
Lost in all of that excitement is Joffrey Lupul.
The former 28-goal scorer returned from nearly two years of recovery from back surgery and infection. Though he hasn't recorded a goal yet, Lupul has been a consistent contributor of energy to the squad and seems to be of the cusp of breaking out.
Despite prospect Jake Gardiner being the main piece of the deal, Lupul looks like a solid fit on the first line with Phil Kessel.
Although he hasn't acquired much other help yet, Brian Burke has noted he is taking aim at acquiring a defenceman with some of his recently acquired assets.
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The recent Kaberle deal is proof that Brian Burke is one of most patient men in the hockey business.
Specifically with Kaberle, his name has been mentioned in trade rumors for nearly the past decade, especially since Burke has taken over. Since the first time Burke was asked about Kaberle, he maintained that he would not trade him unless he got his price.
Burke waited about two years for his price.
Then, on February 18th, 2011, he got it.
Some thought Burke was bluffing, that he wasn't actually going to deal Kaberle. However, his departure shows that he clearly wasn't and proves his incredible patience.
Deadline? What Deadline?
Jake Gardiner is a prospect that was acquired in the Francois Beauchemin deal.
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Brian Burke seems to have started a trend.
He has essentially dismantled the Toronto Maple Leafs this season, trading veterans for picks and youngsters and improving the team's odds at a future playoff spot, all before the trade deadline.
His trading of Beauchemin set off an avalanche of other deals around the league.
Burke is often known to make deals before the deadline rather than at the actual cut-off date. This is because deals are much tougher to make when you know you've only got a couple more hours to change anything. The pressure to make a move is very high on that day, especially in Toronto. In addition, it's harder to get the price you want for your assets that late.
Brian Burke knows these things.
Stockpiling Draft Picks
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If all the conditionals work out, the Toronto Maple Leafs will have acquired five draft picks in the recent weeks, none of them lower than a fourth-rounder.
Stockpiling picks like this is always a good thing for a re-building team. The two first-round picks are sure to provide the Leafs with some quality prospects, even if they are late in the round. However, in order for that to happen, Burke will have to actually keep the picks first, which is looking less and less likely as the days pass.
Burke has stated over and over again that he is looking to move his picks for a young, talented roster player or even a higher first-rounder. Both cases provide the Leafs with some major talent, but the former seems to be the route Burke will take.
He likes the idea of making the playoffs sooner rather than later. Although that will be tough, the Leafs look to be on the right track, with Phil Kessel, Nikolai Kulemin, Clarke MacArthur, Mikhail Grabovski, Luke Schenn and James Reimer leading the way for the squad. Factor in the recently acquired Joffrey Lupul and any possible player that could come from a trade, Toronto is starting to look like a contending hockey team.
Focuses on Getting Younger
Francois Beauchemin is one of the players who was traded in an effort to make the Leafs younger.
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Francois Beauchemin is 30 years old. Tomas Kaberle is 32. Kris Versteeg is just 24, but I think you see the trend I was getting at with the previous two players.
Brian Burke has focused on making his Toronto Maple Leafs younger, and thus far has completely reached his goal.
In their recent game against the Ottawa, the Toronto Maple Leafs did not dress a player over the age of 30.
I didn't have the time to look through every Leaf game in history, but this may very well be the first time the Leafs have dressed a team of players in their twenties and teens. It'd be interesting to see if this is true.
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Intelligence. Not that tough of a concept, really.
Brian Burke has proven to be very hockey smart since his time here. Focusing on the recent weeks, Burke has shipped out players that he deemed unnecessary for the future of the team, and brought in assets that can help now and in the coming years.
He's acquired an, excuse the bad pun, "Monstrous" amount of draft picks recently, and has stated he's looking to trade them for a young player who can help the team now.
In other words, he's managed to ship out the dead weight (sorry, Tomas Kaberle) and bring in assets that will help the Leafs in the coming years and the present. Excuse me if I sound like a broken record here.
Yeah, he's a pretty smart guy.
Building for the Future
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With the recent acquisitions of prospects Joe Colborne and Jake Gardiner, it's clear Burke is willing to build a contender the long way.
Yes, he will be looking at making the playoffs sooner rather than later, but given the unlikelihood of a plan as such, Burke knows he needs support for the future.
The trades made in the last few weeks have partially defined the future of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Both Colborne and Gardiner look like they will become big pieces on the Leafs in the future and considering the number of picks he's acquired, there could be more players to add to that list soon.
Even if Burke trades the picks, he will do so for a young, skilled forward or defenceman. Either way, he's keeping the team young and well set-up for the years to come.
Things are looking bright for Leaf fans.
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