Trade Deadline: What To Expect From Brian Burke

February 27th, 2012 No Comments

With the trade deadline now in it’s final hours it appears as if Toronto Maple Leafs general manager would like to make a couple of moves, but given the lack of movement thus far, Burke may not be able to make anything of significance happen.

A top-six forward (Rick Nash) and a goaltender (Evgeni Nabokov), look to be Burke’s biggest needs, but neither one of those players will be easy to pry away from their current teams.

The names of Mikhail Grabovski (who is a UFA this summer), Clarke MacArthur (who has some value on the trade market) Nikolai Kulemin (who has struggled this season) and defenseman Luke Schenn look to be the three most likely candidates to be traded from the Maple Leafs, but don’t expect any of them to be had unless Burke’s asking price, which is likely going to be high, is met.

Veteran forward Colby Armstrong may also be available, but when you consider his large contract ($3 million per season), injury woes and his ineffectiveness when he has been in the lineup Burke will not get much in return.

Truth be told, the Maple Leafs could be thought of as a buyer or seller. The reality is, if Burke fails to land a goaltender he is very likely to stay status quo or become a moderate seller.

Without an upgrade between the pipes the Blue and White have little chance of making the playoffs, which means any other moves Burke may be considering become moot.

Nabokov has a 15-15 record to go along with a 2.32 goals against average and a .922 save percentage with the lowly New York Islanders. He continues to be the apple of Burke’s eye with few other options out there. The Islanders have been working on a contract extension with Nabokov, but if they are unable to get a deal done they may change their tune with Nabby likely going on the market.

Until recently, the Maple Leafs speed and scoring prowess has been a strength for Burke’s team, but with his team’s offense cooling off lately (17 goals in their past nine games) and his defense and goaltending continuing to be an issue, Burke may very well become a seller this year if he cannot make an upgrade.

With the Philadelphia Flyers bringing in two NHL calibre defensemen to off-set the loss of future Hall of Fame defenseman Chris Pronger it is believed that the James Van Reimsdyk for Luke Schenn deal will not be on the table at the deadline, which means Burke may turn his sights on Dallas Stars agitator Steven Ott, who would be a good fit in Toronto, but hardly the game changer Burke needs to elevate his teams chances of making the playoffs.

Los Angeles Kings captain Dustin Brown’s name has been coming up in a number of trade rumors, but you’d have to think the Kings would like to get a roster player/s back in return, not just a prospect or draft choice.

Burke has long said he is not interested in making short-term moves, rather, he would like to trade for players that he can build with, both Brown and JVR are exactly the type of player Burke would go after, whether he makes it happen or not remains to be seen.

Burke does have Grabovski and MacArthur to offer the Kings—would that be enough to land Brown?

Burke will spend most of the morning trying to make the big move (adding Nash), but with the price tag for Nash believed to be rookie defenseman Jake Gardiner, top prospect Joe Colborne, a first round draft pick and more, I just cannot see Burke pulling the trigger.

In the end I foresee a slow day for Burke. The odds of Rick Nash coming to Toronto looks to be very slim, and with few other impact players believed to be on the market, it would seem unlikely Burke will make a big splash today.

Should Burke fail to make a big move you would think he would turn his sights on becoming a seller, with draft picks and prospects coming to Toronto.

While most Maple Leaf fans would like to see an upgrade or two made, becoming a seller wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for this team, especially when you consider the Maple Leafs will likely become road kill for any team that they might meet in the playoffs.

This is a team that has one win in their past nine games, a team that has looked terrible defensively and clearly needs an upgrade between the pipes. This is not a team that is a player or two away from a Stanley Cup, so if Burke becomes a seller, so be it.

Until next time,


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