Trio Of Boston Bruins Could Be The Target Of Brian Burke

March 16th, 2012 6 Comments

With another disappointing season inching closer to being in the books it has become very apparent that Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke will have to make some roster changes this summer.

One of the key areas Burke will have to address will be team toughness. With few options on the farm, Burke will have to find a way to bring in some toughness via trade, or more likely, free agency.

When you look at the free agents that will be available this summer the overall scope is pretty weak. That said, there are a few players that should get a measure of interest from Burke.

Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Smyth’s leadership and physical presence would be a nice fit in Toronto, but with Smyth hell bent on staying in Edmonton to finish his career there is little chance of him coming East to join the Maple Leafs.

At 6’4, 240 pounds, Los Angeles King forward Dustin Penner has the size that Burke likes. That said, Penner is not known for his physical prowess and when you consider how poorly he has played the past two seasons, there is no way Burke brings Penner into the fold—Burke has enough underachievers on his team already!

Ultra-pest Sean Avery looks to be retiring, and really, who needs that sideshow in Toronto?

One of the better options out there would be Boston Bruins forward Chris Kelly. At 31 years of age Kelly still has enough youth on his side to continue to contribute at a decent level. He can be tough to play against, but is not really regarded as a rugged player. With a career high of 16 goals this season, Kelly can contribute enough offense to justify playing upwards of 15 minutes per game.

While it would be a long shot to lure Kelly away from Boston, Kelly, who stands 6’0″ and weighs in at just under 200 pounds, is regarded as a decent shutdown forward and he brings a compete level that Burke so desperately needs from his troops.

Kelly currently earns $2,125,000, but could earn as much as $2.5 million per season on a 2-4 year deal, which might price him out of Burke’s range.

Fellow Bruin Greg Campbell could also be an option for Burke. Campbell is a lot tougher than Kelly, but he doesn’t have the offensive upside of Kelly and he is not as good defensively either.

And then there is Shawn Thornton. At 34-years of age, Thornton is the oldest of this trio of Bruins, but he might just be exactly the type of player Burke needs.

While not offensively talented, Thornton, who stands 6’2” and weighs in at nearly 220 pounds, would bring a ton of leadership and character to the Maple Leafs and a love for chucking the knuckles—a skill both Burke and Maple Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle admire.

Originally drafted 190th overall in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs, Thornton doesn’t play many minutes in Boston, but there is plenty of evidence that when he is on the ice that he can be a game changer. Whether it is sparking his team with a big fight or making a huge hit on an opposing player, Thornton is the type of player that commands a measure of respect from the opposition.

Earning $812,500 with the Bruins this season, Thornton should be available for under $1 million which, when you consider how cash strapped the Maple Leafs may be this summer, should fit the bill for Burke.

Thornton, Kelly or Campbell could be a valuable addition for Burke—heck, signing all three would make a great fourth line!

Any way you slice it, there are few options out there for Burke to consider, this trio of current Boston Bruins players might just be it.

Until next time,



  1. toronto needs defence tough defence like bobby baun type and tim horton .GO LEAFS GO

  2. Mark Ritter says:

    Gerry— yes. Burke needs to upgrade on the backend as well. The third and fourth lines need to be tweaked, hell..tweak it all!

  3. peterj says:

    If the last 2 games are any indication, the D needed a stategy on how to play the game. They have better positioning in their end now and are not playing the high risk game at the other teams blueline that they played under Wilson. Defence is a team game and when you have a plan and execute it every thing works well.

    With regard to Baun and Horton they were very good Dmen in their day but the game today is a way faster and the players much more skilled that they were in those days. Those 2 could never skate with todays players, and I am an “old fart” who has been following the game for 60 years, I had the pleasure of watching them play.

  4. Dave says:

    Well it looks like Thornton re-upped for 2 more years at a price tag just north of 1 million per season. Something tells me the trade route is where BB makes his splash this off season provided he doesnt get Parise or Doan as a UFA. I’d say look to Nash, Statsny, Iginla, Getzlaf, Ryan, Brassard, J. Thornton in the trade department.
    A total under the radar and non-typical Burke move I would like to see would be to sign Ray Bourque’s son Ryan. H’es never quite cut it for some reason in pro but he puts up great numbers in the AHL. I’d definetly give him a try on the third line, granted no size upgrade but he does have some scoring upside were lacking. Worst case, we put him on the Marlies roster and watch him tear it up.


  5. Jake says:

    Wow now there is an idea get players from Boston that are well beyond their best before date after supplying Boston with 3 top draft picks in exchange for Phillis Kessel .

    That would make perfect sense to Brian Burke since he could then trade away the young guys the Leafs have developed for an over the hill goalie and a star player like Nash that couldn’t make a difference in Columbus .

    Why not just fire that idiot Burke and get a GM that has some idea of what real toughness is by NHL standards . It sure isn’t Phillis Kessel , Diane Phaneuf or Tammy Connolly .
    MLSE must be aware of the fact that fans are dissenchanted with Burkes plan and tired of watching a team full of other teams discards attempt to win games .

  6. Dave says:

    Geez, I’m not happy with our 2012 season either Jake but wow man – thats really harsh. Some may call that the truth, others may not. To each their own I guess. There is valid evidence for both sides this season. I for one, am hoping to see some bright lights bring it in 2012/2013. Kadri, D’Amigo, Gardiner, and Colbourne will all be on this team barring any of them getting traded. At some point I also expect to see Ross, Blacker, Mueller and McKegg may also see time. At the very least you have to admit – thats a pretty strong prospect pool. If not in individual talent, but strong in terms of solid prospects moving though the system – and theres more coming, i.e Percy, Biggs, etc.

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