Friday, October 23, 2009

What's The Plan Mr. Burke?

We've heard and read a lot of discussion about all of Brian Burke's deals since taking control of the Toronto Maple Leafs. At the forefront was the trade with the Boston Bruins for Phil Kessel.  At first glance who could argue this was not a good deal for both clubs.  Kessel, a natural scoring winger with speed to burn is exactly the type of player the leafs need.  The Bruins get the Leafs first and second picks in 2010 and their first pick in 2011.  We'll have wait before we can fairly judge this one, but for now why not look at WHY the deal was made, and whether Burke over paid.

For Boston it was simple,  Kessel wanted more than the Bruins could offer because of budget and cap restrictions.  If Burke didn't get him, someone else would have.  We'll never really know how many other teams were in the bidding, but when a hot, young, talent like this comes on the market there's always a long line of GM's who are interested.  Simply put, the Leafs needed a player like Kessel and Boston had one.  The question of whether Burke overpaid is a little trickier.

Kessel was a restricted free agent.   This means Burke could have just tried to take him from The Bruins.  Had The Leafs signed Kessel to an offer sheet Boston could have matched Toronto's offer and tried to trade him later, or refused to match, let him go, and receive the leauge imposed compensation from Toronto.  Compensation for a player of Kessel's caliber would probably have been Toronto's next three first round draft picks.
In 2008 a team signing a restricted free agent to a salary averaging $2,615,625 to $3,923,437 per season will lose a first-round draft pick and a third-round draft pick to the player’s old team.
- Signing a restricted free agent to a contract worth over $6,539,062 per year costs a team four first-round draft picks.

So far it looks like the right decision, but what about the other deal Brian Burke chose to pass on?  What about the deal Boston thought they had just before the June draft?  The deal would have seen Tomas Kaberle, and Toronto's first pick (7th overall) in the June 2009 enrty draft,  go to Boston for Kessel and Boston's first pick (25th overall).  The deal fell apart when Burke refused to swap picks. 

Had this deal been made we would still have drafted in the first round last June and in 2010 and 2011.  We would still have our second pick in 2010.  Granted Kaberle would be gone but his days as a Leaf are numbered anyway.  Maybe Mr. Burke thought he could get more for Kaberle later on.  He's said many times it's much easier to trade a quality defenseman than any other position.  Maybe he can, but he clearly lost on the deal when he traded Pavel Kubina.  He didn't do too well when he traded Anton Stralman either.  So much for trading our wealth of good VALUABLE defensemen  for talented young forwards and high draft choices.

Recently Brian Burke defended the Kessel deal by saying he didn't think he could have used any of those picks to draft a player as good as Kessel and have them play this year or next.  That may be so, but their first pick this year isn't helping the team right now either.  I'm confused.  Are we building for the future?  Are growing our pool of young talent?  Are we building from the back end out?  Are we are playoff team?  Are we a tougher team to play?  Are we truculent and fearsome in the eyes of the rest of the league? All these things were to be part of Brian Burkes plan for the Toronto Maple Leafs.  I don't see it.  Gone are Antropov, Moore, Kubina, Stralman, and 3 first round picks.  In return we get Exelby (healthy scratch most nights), Phil Kessel (still injured), and a handful of second, third and fourth picks.  We still don't have a proven number one goalie, our defense in atrocious, we can't score, we're still getting pushed around, and since we blew our only lead of the season in the third period of our opener, against our most hated rival, who incidentally was one of the teams being counted on to finish behind us in the standings, we haven't been close to winning a game.  Pardon me for being a little negative Mr. Burke but plan A,B,C, and D aren't working.  We've heard you criticize the players for not performing to expectations, how about you starting to live up to yours.   


  1. Isn't Brian Burke American? Does the acquisition of Kessel mean the Leafs plan to load up on American-trained players? Not sure I like that trend!

  2. Re: Russ Campbell said...

    Isn't Brian Burke American? Does the acquisition of Kessel mean the Leafs plan to load up on American-trained players? Not sure I like that trend!

    Interesting comment. Right now the 28 man roster is represented by 8 different countries. Canadian players make up 46%. American born players represent 19% of the roster, Sweden is a distant 3rd at 11%. This may be just coincidence but when we only see 1 Russian and 2 Czech players it may be a trend worth watching.
    We know for sure Brian Burke values toughness more than skill. I hope he doesn't think our Southern cousin is a better hockey factory as well.