Leaf moves

Discussion in 'Hockey Talk' started by Janus, Jul 4, 2011.

  1. Janus

    Janus
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    Finally a little down time...

    Well, another over the hill, overpaid and washed up vet heads off to Shady Acres in Manhattan. Of course had Richards signed with the Leafs he would be a great player and difference maker [​IMG].

    In all seriousness he should make a solid addition to the Rangers if he's back to 100%. That's always the worry with concussions. The money isn't silly for him if he's healthy. It's too bad he didn't pick the Leafs but I don't know that he was going to convinced to go anywhere but NY as long as they made him a decent offer.

    On the other hand the money for Connolly is more than I would have liked based on his production and health. Talk is there was enough interest in him that the money was market value, so hopefully things work out. I'm less concerned with Lombardi's health sisnce I think he was a salary dump in the aquisition of Franson. With a little luck though it will play out like Lupul and the guy thought to be the throw in turns out to be good value. Overall I think the Franson deal was a sweet one with the Leafs giving up virtually nothing and adding at least one if not two quality players. Hey, maybe between Connolly and Lombardi we'll get a full season [​IMG]. The Leafs now have a pretty good looking young defence corps right now. It still remains to be seen what they will turn into but there's a lot of potential there.

    Overall I'm comfortable with the moves made. We didn't land anyone major but outside of Richards there was no UFA that was worth the money being tossed around. I'm also glad that the Leafs didn't give up Kulemin to land Mike Richards from Philly as has been reported as part of the ask in that case. I like Mike but I don't think he's good enough to sacrifice that much future to land him, certainly not at the develoment stage the Leafs are at. They are well positioned to look for other deals as teams feel a cap/cash pinch. The Sabres and Caps will pretty much have to make some moves just to round out the roster and give themselves a little breathing room.
     
  2. rikster

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    The Leafs are a team right now which needs to over pay to attract free agents...I read Connolly was blown away by the deal the Leafs offered which was much more than the others he received...

    I think they panicked with that deal and should have been patient waiting for more deals like the one that landed on their lap with the Franson deal....

    There will be lots of teams looking to shed salary before the season starts and it will become a buyers market whereas on July 1st it was a players market....

    Much prefer the looks of the Leafs blue line today than Burke's first attempt to build a big, tough blue line...

    Take care...
     
  3. m_peroni

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    I like the moves too because i like all of these players. Franson was a steal. Lombardi will need some time to get in shape, but i love the game he plays. He is a hard working player and hopefully he stays healthy because i want this guy to have a good career.

    Connolly is a good player, though he's been inconsistent at times. I don't buy it that the Leafs offered so much more than the other teams. Connolly, to me, was the second best center in the UFA pool and it's going to cost you to get that player. He is overpaid, but it's a two year deal, so who cares?

    I still think Burke will try to make another addition.
     
  4. Shakes

    Shakes
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    Leafs continue to make solid efforts to improve.

    I have not heard anything about Connolly's other contract offers so I guess I will just go with your statement as being possibly true. The UFA market this year was very thin and I do not think one UFA player was really signed at a great deal. I think that the term of the contract with Connolly is what is attractive to the leafs as it was for only 2 years which means that they can have a lot of flexibility with it yet at the same time immmediately improve there team next year and to me this is worth over paying him a bit vs. a long term deal at perhaps a lower cap hit. If it was a pannick move then I think it was a good one based on where the team is in terms of developing some of there rookie centermen prospects like Kadri and Colborne who are legit first line center contenders some day. Both younger prospects would probably be another 2 years away (providing they pain out) to be a worthy contender to center a top line or second line center spot.

    One interesting note with the Conn0lly deal (I have not heard anywhere) and Riemer RFA deal as well was that Burke was front end loading there contracts to pay them more in the first year of the deal then the last. Why is this? Maybe US to Canadian dollar conversions or perhaps other reasons that entice players to sign the dotted line? That said I believe it is because (in part) the one thing that the Leafs do have is money so if for example that after one year Toronto wants to trade Connolly to another team the trading team would have to pay 4 million for that one season of Connolly vs. his cap hit of 4.75 million because the Leafs paid him an extra .75 mill in the first year. Basically anyone that would be interested would on paper be getting a 4.75 mill cap hit but only spending 4 million in order to achieve this number. This has some small value in it for teams trying to make the cap min. Riemers contract was also front end loaded to pay him less in the last year then the first year. Komi's contract is also front end loaded as well in a similar fashion. After this year Komi's cap hit will be 4.5 mill but his actual salary owed will be 3.5 mill per season. I do not think that this will make him attractive enough to anyone unless he plays much better but the idea was there. Give some a higher cap hit to meet the league min but only have to pay X amount in order to obtain that cap hit. Very good idea to be honest with you and some cap min strapped teams will be interested.

    Im very excited about our Leaf blueline

    Phanuef, Schenn, Aulie, Franzen, Liles, Komi and Gunnarson represent a very good blend of size, grit, and skill and vet leadership.

    I have crunched the numbers up and down on the Leafs moves thus far and my moderate predictions are as follows:

    I think that with the minor tweaks that the Leafs have made this year they managed to probably improve there point totals in the standings by 4-8 extra points in the regular season.

    Insert Liles + Franzen (love this deal by the way) on the blueline to replace Kaberle and Lebda. This is a 4+ point swing in my mind. This is without Schenn or Aulie getting better. Without mentioning Komi who has the potential to be better as well next year. I think one of the main reasons that the Leafs assistant coaches were fired were to be a new buffer between some of the players like Komi that were struggling and to give fresh ideas (without mentioning speciality teams).

    Insert Connolly on the first line for 50 games vs. Bozak and that is about a 4+ point swing all by itself.

    Tricky part is that the Leafs now need a solid 3rd or 4th line centermen with some size that can penalty kill. Give the Leafs that next building block and they will be in the playoff's for sure providing that there Goaltending does not do a swan dive.



    The other tricky part with the Leafs is assessing all there younger players that stand a chance of improving, staying even or getting worse.

    Very young group of players in Toronto that in all honesty have not hit there prime or could easily decline: All under 24 and all have had success in the NHL thus far.

    Schenn 22 years old
    Aulie 22 years old
    Riemer 23 years old (KEY PLAYER IN THIS GROUP TO WATCH)
    Franzen 23 years old
    Kessel 24 years old
    Gunnarson 24 years old

    If this group listed above makes improvements next year then the Leafs can continue to rise above the 6-8 points I mentioned. No cup winners in Toronto but perhaps a middle of the road team closer to the 6th spot then the 8 to 10 spot. But a lot of what if's still but a heck of a lot less what if's and a heck of a lot more bright spots in the teams future. To bad Toronto hired JFJ instead of Burke then the Team would have been even further along.
     
  5. Shakes

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    I do not know what else Burke has up his sleeve but he seems to be able to pull some interesting players out of different places via multiple ways of obtaining them. Via signings out of Europe or College, via trading away and obtaining bad contracts. Via multi player deals, via some free agent signings. Basically a hodge podge of routes some very creative deals to boot.

    In the end without a first round pick in the Last two years he still managed to

    A.) pick two first round picks (although a lot higher in the draft) mind you.
    B.) Add some very young players with a lot of potential into the mix that were not drafted by Toronto. Aulie, Franson, Colborne, Gustafson and Bozak are the most regarded at the moment but there is others. All added with 0 first round draft picks.

    Overall Burke has done a very good job of stocking the cupboard with something tangible and some bodies with potential. I hope he continues to press with his thinking outside the box. Previously to last year the Leafs only had a couple of prospects anyone would be interested in and now they seem to have 5 or 6 of them and Burke at least has a little more to work with other then smoke and mirrors. Can he turn this hodge podge group of youngsters into a playoff team? Can he continue to make small improvements to his team and leap frog them up to be a contender is what is the really big question.
     
  6. rikster

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    Re: Leafs continue to make solid efforts to improve.

    While I agree with the thought that the Leafs blue line is Burkes best work to date, I think you have to take a step back and accept it for what it is....

    A number of 4/5 guys bordering on 3/4 and a wild card which is Phaneuf...

    I think with the moves on the blue line, Phaneuf may be the player who makes the biggest improvement just because of the defensive nature of the group and how physical they should be which will give him free reign to go on the attack when he wants to...

    The Canucks want a blue line that contributes 200 points, I'd be curious to hear Leaf fans predictions on their teams point totals...

    Regarding Connolly, like most of the free agents he is over paid....Burkey would drive him to an airport if he was a RFA on the Leafs holding out for the money and term he just got, so not sure why we just accept that we have to be goofy on July 1st, but prudent for the other 364 days....

    As you said, the leafs best asset is money both within the cap and money they can bury in the minors, so why not preserve that advantage and go looking for more deals like the Nashville deal, only involving more significant players?....That is why I thought he panicked and maybe it was driven by the heat he took for being over seas on July 1st....

    I'm struck by the number of teams who are near the cap, knowing that their bottom lines do not justify that payroll and they should be closer to the floor so I would expect major deals to come either by opening day or the Christmas freeze....

    I thought you made a very good point when you talked about the value of front loaded contracts...

    You don't have to expect much of a monetary return to realize that a $20 million dollar contract that pays $18 million in the first two years is a heck of a better contract than a contract that pays $5 million per year for 4 years....

    Take care...
     
  7. Shakes

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    Re: Leafs continue to make solid efforts to improve.

    I agree

    Aulie is a wild card with a lot of promise.
    Franson I just do not know other then he was on the second pair in Nashville and is highly regarded.


    I would think that Schenn earned the right to be saying that he would be a top defensive pairing defender on most teams and Phanuef would be a top all around defender on most.

    Oh well

    Top 3 offensive defenders had 106 points last year. Phanuef, Liles, and Fransen. That is pretty solid.

    Top defensive players last year were Schenn and Aulie who are tough and fight and block shots and hit people. If you want to include Phaneuf in this category as well that is fine.

    I do not think that a blueline should be built solely on points. I believe that you need to have a good blend of offence and a good blend of snarl/defence. I see that with the Leafs now and the best part is that half of them are huge and half of them are under 23 years old.

    Point totals from the Leafs predicted
    Phanuel 30 similar numbers
    Liles 40 similar
    Franson 20-40 similar but with a +/-
    Schen 15-30 similar with a +/-
    Aulie 5-10? (more points actually LOL)
    Gunnarson 15-30 (similar with a +/-)
    Komi 0-15 (not convinced he will be with the team as yet)
    Others 10-15

    Maybe 150 points at best?
    Better then last years numbers for sure at about 125 points from last year with this year probably being closer to 150+ points from the blueline.

    Phanuef, Liles, Schenn, Franson would be about 125 points by themselves and that is solid enough.
     
  8. maineblackbear

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    I LOVE What The Leafs Have Done

    Especially on the blueline. Adding Liles and Franson were great moves. Putting Komisarek in a role that sets him up for success (#6) was very wise. He is just not what people envisioned him 3 or 4 years ago. He has a good all around skillset, just not a great decision-maker.

    I also like the addition of Lombardi, if he regains health. Real blue collar player who should do well in Toronto.

    Connelly? Ehh. He will absolutely help the Leafs next year. GREAT idea of a 2 year deal with some front loading. Interesting to see how he fits with Kessel.

    Phil The Thrill is the key to this CURRENT group of Leafs. Can he find consistency in his work ethic? Can he find consistency in his production? Can he deal with coaches better? Can he finally find a willingness to work on his body and finally get into some semblemnce of reasonable shape?

    If I am Burkie....this is the key year for Kessel. If he doesnt show marked improvement, you HAVE to cut bait with him and ditch him.

    Later
     
  9. Shakes

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    Re: I LOVE What The Leafs Have Done

    I think you hit the nail on the head at the time of the signing. You mentioned that Komi was not the same after he was pummelled by Lucic. Oddly enough a radio reporter in Toronto mentioned that same thing/comment mid way through last season as a possible explanation for his decline and I remembered that you had said it about 2 years earlier. Good on you and props.

    Leaf brass have made comments like he is still a very good character guy but I think that they really want to see him snap out of his funk. I secondly believe that one of the key reasons that two assistant GM's were fired because of there relationships with Komi as they wanted to get him back on track at all costs. Especially since he has 3 years left on his contract. I have a feeling he lost confidence and the coaches lost confidence in him.

    With regards to Lombardi Im not holding my breath but there is always hope.

    Phil has been pretty consistantly inconsistant in Toronto but at the end of the day with a slug centermen he still scored goals at a 30+ goal season clip. The problem with Kessel is that he does not seem to great on the PP/ Two one dimensional is his problem. Hopefully Connelly (A very good stickhandler can help create some space for Kessel.

    I would not cut bait on Kessel as you suggested. For a 30+ goal scorer per season with potential to score 40+ goals you have to be a little patient. I know I have seen Kessel in the media and at various events in Toronto with multiple Leaf players at his side. I do believe he fits into the Toronto locker room perhaps more so then Boston because Boston was a bit of an older more seasoned team. Possibly because of the ages of most Toronto players he might be motivated to really put forth and all out effort as when he does he does play extremely well. I know I kept an eye on this as you mentioned that he was not overly liked in Boston at all.

    Connelly has went on record as saying that Kessel is the exact type of player he works best with. YADDA YADDA YADDA I want to see some proof.

    The Leafs just resigned McCarther and Bozak so Im assuming that Bozak will be bumped down to the third line and McCarther will once again form a pretty solid second line that scored roughly 80 goals for them last year. Problem is that the first line only scored roughly 70 goals with almost half of them coming from Kessel.
     
  10. rikster

    rikster
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    Is it time to move on from Burke?

    After his latest comments about refusing to front load a contract, all the while admitting his offer was for more money than the Rangers which is another way of saying his offer would have inflated salaries even more if it had been accepted, you have to wonder if the Leafs are any better today than when Burke arrived in Toronto?...

    Looking back to that 2008/2009 roter he inherited;

    Forwards

    Blake-Stajan-Antropov

    Steen-Moore-Hagman

    Ponikarovsky-Devereaux-Tlusty

    Bell-Williams-Grabovski



    Defensemen

    Kaberle-Kubina

    Frogren-Stralman

    Colaiacavo-Finger

    x-White

    Goalies

    Vesa Toskala

    Curtis Joseph

    x-James Reimer


    The roster as it stands today;

    Forwards

    Kessel - Connolly - Lupul

    MacArthur - Lombardi - Armstrong

    Kulemin - Grabovski - Kadri

    Orr - Bozak - Brown

    Defencemen

    Phaneuf - Komisarek

    Liles - Gunnarsson

    Franson - Aulie

    Schenn - Lashoff

    Crabb

    Goaltenders

    Reimer

    Gustavsson

    Neither roster includes high end core players and both are long on try and short on skill...

    If I was a Leaf fan I'd be upset looking at that roster, especially given this has been a non playoff team for every year Burke has been in Toronto and the Leafs management staff has some very experienced people on it...

    The difference between the Vancouver media and the Toronto media seems to be the willingness to take Burke to task for some of his actions, in Vancouver he would have been under intense scrutiny for the timing of his trip overseas while in Toronto it seems the lone writer who spoke out against the timing is the one being villified...


    Take care...
     
  11. m_peroni

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    Re: Is it time to move on from Burke?

    No comparison. The current roster is a lot better that the 2008 roster.

    Blake was an overpaid third liner. Stajan a good second line center, but i think he is better on the third line. Antropov was the best first line player on the team.

    Steen was regressing, Moore a depth fill in. Hagman an overachieving goal scorer.

    Poni was probably a good second line player, i thought, but again, maybe more of a third liner? Devereaux who? Tlusty a bust.

    Fourth line had Grabovski as the only bright side.

    Defense sucked.

    Goaltending...CuJo was done, Toskala overrated.

    Now he has...

    Kessel, who is a first line goal scorer. Connolly a second line playmaker. Lupul a second line 20 goal scorer.

    MacArthur is more of a third liner, but so far he's working fine on the secon line. Lombardi is an injury risk, but an absolute second line center. Armstrong a third liner.

    Kuelmin a skilled two-way youngsters. Grabovski a second line point getter. Kadri i think will be nothing more than a decent third line scorer (i never liked that pick).

    Fourth line is truly gritty.

    Defense is respectable and credible.

    Goaltending, mediocre, but awaiting for Reimer to prove himself.

    So, yeah...i think they are much better than they were. The draft picks still need to flourish, so i think in a couple of years they SHOULD have at least two more regular NHLers coming up from their system.

    It takes time to rebuild a team when you not only inherit a below average skilled team, but one with expensive contracts and immovable players that teams don't really want. It takes times to get rid of those players, or be forced to wait for their contracts to expire, it takes time for draft picks to make it to the NHL, and it takes time to build a better team.

    Burke has made mistakes, which GM hasn't (?), and Toronto is not an easy team to manage. I think within two years he will get this team into the playoffs.
     
  12. rikster

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    Re: Is it time to move on from Burke?

    Not saying I agree or disagree, but when you take a step back and look at either roster you get allot of blah....

    If Vancouver misses the playoffs for the next 4 or 5 years and finishes near the bottom of the entire league, they had better have a more competitive team than the one in Toronto this year...

    I'm beginning to wonder if Burke has lost his way in the big city...

    Take care...
     
  13. m_peroni

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    Re: Is it time to move on from Burke?

    Naaaaa, you have a thing against Burkey! ;)

    Of course it's not an attractive roster. But again, this is a team that was ruined from top to bottom. I mean, from team, to system, to terrible contracts.

    Look, if i did not experience the eight years that the Rangers missed the playoffs, i'd be echoing your opinion as well. But, when you inherit a team that has no leadership, that has a terrible farm system, and that has overrated, overpaid underachieving players. It takes years to fix the mess.

    Burke built a good foundation in Vancouver.

    He made better decisions in Anaheim after Murray spinelessly fled the team to coach Ottawa, and unsurprisingly has destroyed that team as well.

    The guy has experience, he has the smarts. It's just not an easy situation in Toronto. The hierarchy was terrible. The farm system was abysmal. He's made mistakes, no doubt. He actually damaged the team's future a bit with the Kessel trade, but he is trying to make the team credible, and it's a step in the right direction.

    Connolly and Lombardi....yes, injury risks. But, they are good players. At least they now have two respectable centers on the roster.

    It's not easy to make trades either when the team's farm system is abysmal. It handcuffs you. You not only lack organizational depth, but you lack the assets to make better improvements.

    I don't think Toronto has a playoff team unless Reimer really surprises, but it's got a core that is credible and respectable.

    We'll see if he can fetch a good UFA next year since it looks like it is much better than this year's pool.

    It takes time to do it. You need luck, bravery, and skills.
     
  14. rikster

    rikster
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    Re: Is it time to move on from Burke?

    Burke had the power to put the Leafs in a full rebuild mode when he arrived in Toronto, but decided to go a hybrid route and be active in the free agency market...

    The result is blah and I would argue no better a line up than the one he inherited ...

    Take care...
     
  15. Die-hard1

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    Re: I LOVE What The Leafs Have Done

    For me, the Franson/Lombardi trade is the only move I really like - reminds me a bit of the Ehrhoff fleecing of San Jose for next to nothing. Burke gave away nothing for these two players, truthfully I'm not sure why Poile didn't shop them more because there are lots of teams looking to spend money - but the Leafs benefitted from this and that's all that matters. Franson is a very solid young d-man who should play top 4 minutes in Toronto right away. Lombardi could make a difference on the forward lines if he's ready to play - hopefully he's recovered from a brutal concussion.

    The Connolly move is ok, if he's healthy. If he plays 50-60 games a season like he typically does, and scores 40 points, then it's a bad move. I think he's more likely to do the latter than the former but it's a wait and see for me. He's overpaid, but it's only a 2 year deal which makes a big difference - if he doesn't play well or much then that's still money stopping you from signing a replacement next year.

    Liles is another ok move - a 2nd rounder has some value and it's only 1 year for Liles. He's a good puck mover but very small and soft, a bit like Kaberle but slightly worse. Again, only a 1 year deal so little risk involved overall.

    They did a good job in re-signing their existing players for good value, but I'm with Rikster a bit, I just don't see a playoff team here. If both Connolly and Lombardi are healthy, and Franson plays like he should, they have a good shot at a playoff spot. Hopefully for Leafs fans that happens, because it's been too long without the playoffs here in TO.

    My one concern with Burkie is his cap space for next year - he has to re-sign Kulemin, Franson, Aulie, Lashoff and Grabovski with $20 million in cap space, and that doesn't include Schenn's new deal which I'm assuming he will get soon. He'll also have to re-sign Liles or get a replacement, and get a backup tender (or a starter if Reimer doesn't work out). Not a lot of room to improve a middle of the road team.
     
  16. m_peroni

    m_peroni
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    Re: Is it time to move on from Burke?

    You can't go into rebuild mode with Toronto's ownership. Same in Montreal. Same in New York. Never going to happen.
     
  17. rikster

    rikster
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    Re: Is it time to move on from Burke?

    Your probably right, but I would at least try to argue that the one team you could is Toronto because it's majority shareholder is the Ontario Teachers Pension Fund and they are all about protecting/increasing the value of their share...

    If the payroll went down while the team rebuilt thru the draft and youth, you'd likely not see a reduction in revenues which would increase the bottom line profit and benefit the pension fund...

    Take care...
     
  18. Shakes

    Shakes
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    Re: Is it time to move on from Burke?

    without looking at the prospects. Which are a lot more plentiful now vs back then.

    Top 6 forwards when Burke took over.
    Blake,Stajan, Antropov, Moore, Ponikarovski, Hagman.
    Right out ot the gate Blake tanked which left you with 5 questionable top 6 forwards and no legit top line players of this group just marginable second liners.

    Top 6 forwards today.
    Kessel, Grabovski, Connolly, Lupul, MacArthur, Kulemin
    All top 6 forwards for the most part (one questionable top 6)
    Two top line forwards. Kessel and Kulemin

    Much better starting 6 now vs. then I think we can agree. Okay maybe not major major upgrades but definately better and much younger with 3 guys scoring 30 goals last year

    Defence:
    Top 4 defenders when he took over.
    2 only Kubina and Kaberle rest are scrubs.

    Top 4 defenders right now.
    Phanuef, Schenn, Franson, Liles, Aulie
    Probably 4 top 4 defenders and possibly 5

    Major improvement on the defence and 3 of those defence above are still all under 23 years old.


    Goaltending when he took over:
    Number 1 goaltenders (O zilch nadda hated Toskala from the get go)and Cujo was a backup.

    Goaltending Now:
    Two young goalies both with potential and one showing potential to be a top 15 goalie in the league.

    In 50 games with Toronto Riemer has done a better job then Toskala or Razor so there is an educated risk to go with but I think it is a good one. Much better situation in net not just with the starters but the prospects behind the Monster and Riemer. Cupboard was completely bare but now there is depth.

    I think that if Toronto does not make the playoff's this year that Burke will be in big trouble in Toronto.......but if he does get canned then he at the very least made the team younger and made sure that the cupboard did have some younger talent on board including 5 players that were first round picks that are comming close to make the NHL Kadri, Colbourne, Biggs, Percy, and one or two others just cannot place them at the moment.

    Much much different situaiton now then when Burke took over initially. Team is much younger and is definately on the upswing. The cupboard may not be stock full but it has good prospects in the system for every position. Did I mention that Toronto was the youngest team in the NHL? Big difference.
     
  19. rikster

    rikster
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    Re: Is it time to move on from Burke?

    Hi Shakes...

    I'll take your word that the team is better because they had 81 points in Burkes first year in Toronto and 85 points last season, so they are 4 points better which is another way of saying a bad team is marginally better today...

    Atlanta, Tampa, NYI, Phoenix, LA and Colorado are all teams which finished with less points than the Leafs in that first season, and only Colorado, Atlanta and the Islanders finished with less points than the Leafs did last season...And those 3 teams had roughly half of the payroll the Leafs did and you could argue have a much better group of youth and prospects...

    Tampa finished with 103 points last season

    Phoenix, bankrupt and all, finished with 99

    LA with 98

    So, as compared to the other non playoff teams that year how would you rate Burkes work in Toronto?...

    I'd rate it as blah...

    Take care
     
  20. Shakes

    Shakes
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    Re: I LOVE What The Leafs Have Done

    I think the key to the Leafs hopes are on the back of there goaltending.

    My assesment is as follows:

    Good defence corp with a lot of size and good blend of skill and snarl.
    Piss poor first line
    Good second line
    Decent 3rd line

    The Leafs will not be able to suceed without having a strong back end as they do not have enough fire power to make up the differences so they must have B type goaltending or better on just about all nights.

    Major lack of game breakers still exist on the team and not enough size up front on the top 2 lines to create any consistant jam.

    Absolutely Best case 6th place
    Abosolute wors case 10th place
    Most likely in the middle
     
  21. Shakes

    Shakes
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    Re: Is it time to move on from Burke?

    I think the difference is what you had to work with when you started the job. Toronto was completely and utterly at the bottom with extremely limited talent and absolutely no or very limited prospects in the cupboard.

    The main problem that Burke faced was that he had 0 top end prospects to groom into positions where as all those other teams did.
     
  22. Sir Rodney

    Sir Rodney
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    Re: Is it time to move on from Burke?

    Hi Mick,

    Sorry to jump in to this interesting debate. I think Burke had an excellent opportunity to do exactly that when he first arrived. Judging by the fans reaction and the Toronto media with their take at the time, that was the mandate he was brought in to do. That team was in total disarray and there was little expectation that Burke was going to come in with a quick fix. Toronto fans have supported their team no matter how badly they've been run and there is no reason to expect that they wouldn't have shown the same patience that they have in cities like Edmonton and Chicago. Knowledgeable hockey fans know that before you can get good, you have to be really bad. Under the Cap System, the only way that can be accomplished in my opinion is through the Draft. I have suggested numerous times on this board that I feel Burke's most critical mistake came in the first year when he misread the team he had inherited. He got sidetracked from a major rebuild to the goal of making the playoffs. He made that decision far too early. In any of the quotes from that year, Burke admitted that he misread the team's potential.

    I don't fault him as much as Rikster does for some of the lateral moves he's made since then. The problem is the fact that he doesn't have the critical core of players in place that could eventually lead them to contend for the Stanley Cup. A key component is a number one center. The failed attempt to get Richards on the free agent market illustrates how that would be a daunting, if not impossible task. What makes it even more difficult is that it appears that Toronto is no longer the destination of choice for the top free agents. Toronto threw more money at Richards than what he settled for with the Rangers and it appears that Burke has no interest in playing the game with extended front loaded and extended contracts so you would think the next must have player won't want to sign there either. With solid drafting over the past two years, that component alone would be in the process of evolving. I get the fact that Kessel is a reasonably good player but ...

    I like Burke the person. I love his bluster and personal take no crap style. Unfortunately, what he has done with his early decisions has locked him into another long term period of mediocrity (please understand Shakes that the goal of just making the playoffs falls into that description). Does he have the opportunity to blow the team up once again and still retain tenure? I don't think so. In a couple of years someone else may have when the patience runs out. For now, Toronto fans will have to be content with incremental changes and hope. Burke has given them that but he is a long way from increasing that expectation to the point where the Leafs are seen as a serious contender.

    Should he be fired now for that first year blunder? I don't think so but like all GMs and Coaches, he does have a shelf life and at some point the harrumphing will wear itself out.
     
  23. Sir Rodney

    Sir Rodney
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    Re: Is it time to move on from Burke?

    Hi Shakes,

    This is exactly the point I've been making all along. I assume other Toronto fans had a similar assessment of just how bad the team Burkey inherited was. Knowing that, why on earth didn't he stay with the plan to rebuild from the ground up? I firmly believe you would be much more optimistic for the future if he had stayed the course.
     
  24. Die-hard1

    Die-hard1
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    Re: Is it time to move on from Burke?

    The best way I can put it is Burkie's done a better than average job if you take out the Kessel trade. The Leafs would look so much more promising right now with Seguin and Dougie Hamilton in Kessel's place - not to rub salt in Leaf fans wounds.

    That said, I do agree with Shakes that the team's prospect pool is much better than it was - I still don't see it as a top 10 system, but it's right in the middle somewhere - and it was quite possibly the worst in the NHL when Burkie got to TO.
     
  25. Shakes

    Shakes
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    Re: Is it time to move on from Burke?

    I personally think that Burke has done a good job of rebuilding while at the same time trying to improve the team. Extremely tough job but I believe he has been pretty sucessful at it.

    If Burke had of stayed the course would Toronto have traded for Phanuef and at the same ended up with Aulie in that deal?

    If Toronto was in full rebuild mode maybe they would not have been able to sign McArthur?

    I also highly doubt that if Toronto was in complete rebuild mode that they would have been able to sign Beauchimin which Burke eventually traded into Lupul and also Gardiner (which is a name that is close to the NHL right now)


    It is extremely easy to say that Burke should have stayed the course and everything would have been better. I do not see it that way at all. I see as both sides have their pro's and con's.

    The only regression backwards Burke took with rebuilding via the draft has been the Kessel deal. Yes Burke took a risk. His risk was that Toronto would not be in the top 5 for drafting postion. He was wrong and he lost on that. Other then that every single solitary deal that Toronto has been making for the most part is to obtain prospects and picks. Heck even the player that Burke traded for in that deal was young. In no way shape or form has Burke looked at Veterans to be the nucleus of his rebuild.

    Kaberle, Versteeg, Beachimin, were traded last year for

    2 first round draft picks.
    1 former first round draft pick.
    1 other decently ranked prospect.
    1 second round pick.
    a few other prospects sprinkled in.

    Burke has made one glaring mistake in his tenure with Toronto. The problem is that he over assessed the improvements he made to his team before the trade. Unfortunately I thought along the same lines as Burke to 8-12 draft picks for Kessel? I would do that deal every time.
     
  26. Shakes

    Shakes
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    Re: Is it time to move on from Burke?

    I do not think it is salt in the wounds. I think it is just a matter of a mistake being made on the assessment of his own teams potential.

    I think that Kessel is full value in trading two first round picks for. Unfortunately the position of full value is 8-12 spot for drafting in the first year and not in the top 10 in the second year. I would do that deal every time. I do not think even the best hockey minds thought that the Leafs would be drafting second that next year and if they did I would have thought that they were idiots.
     
  27. Sir Rodney

    Sir Rodney
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    Re: Is it time to move on from Burke?

    Hi Shakes,

    I am not suggesting that he shouldn't have made trades. If you start with the premise that there were very few if any untouchables in the roster Burke inherited, I would fully expect that he would makes several moves to try and put some key components in place. Didn't he trade existing assets for Phaneuf and Aulie? That was part of the initial house cleaning that he did in the first year. Packaging players for either upgrades or picks was and still is the right thing for him to do. Unfortunately, now that may be the only option he has.

    You say the only regression backwards Burke took was not rebuilding via the draft. That's kind of a biggie in my opinion. I understand why you would agree with the Kessel trade. What you should be asking yourself though is how can Burke take the Leafs to the next level. He has gone on record as being opposed to front ended and lengthy term contracts so unless something changes in the next CBA, that pretty much eliminates Toronto as the destination of choice for the kind of player you need. Being better than they were moves them down the list in terms of draft picks. The same assets you rightfully value are the ones most likely to be part of a trade. That falls in to the one step forward, two steps back category.

    From the outside looking in, I really feel that the Leafs will be hard pressed to become contenders. Burke was brought in to accomplish so much more.
     
  28. rikster

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    Re: Is it time to move on from Burke?

    I think his biggest mistake was to go the hybrid route...Rebuild while setting a goal of making the playoffs...

    With the financial clout the Leafs waive around the league coupled with the discussion we've had on rising salary caps and how that impacts most of the teams around the league, it's not very hard to rebuild and sneak into the playoffs.

    Burke hasn't been able to do it, so I'm surprised you feel the way you do towards his work...

    The core and the prospect system Burke inherited did not warrant a hybrid system, and his inability to judge the quality of his team suggests he does not understand how to build a winner...

    He won a Cup in California by tweeking around a championship calibre core, but that isn't what he had when he arrived in Toronto...

    Because he didn't have a goaltender, he didn't have a 1/2 blue liner and he didn't have a true number 1 centreman, why would he think the team was ready to give away first round picks for a player with character issues?...

    Toronto reaked of a total overhaul with no thoughts of playoffs for a number of years, and the fan base was ready for it....

    Where they are today is blah, and the future is blah without an elite goaltender, missing a 1/2 blue liner and without a number 1 centre man....

    The Leaf fans are addicted to Burkes cool aide, how else can you explain the acceptance that Reimer is the goaltender to build a winner around?....

    I give you the Phaneuf trade, I was quick to point out how happy Leafs would be with the inclusion of Auld in the deal, but those type of deals are not hard to do as evidenced by the Ehrhoff trade to Vancouver the same year....

    Teams with quality players needing to move payroll resulting in financial deals and not hockey deals....

    As I've said before, Burke biggest challenge is keeping his thoughts to himself...he makes these goofy comments and then feels he has to act on them which get him into trouble which is what I think happened with the Kessel deal...

    Take care...
     
  29. m_peroni

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    Re: Is it time to move on from Burke?

    Biased. You always have a thing against Burke.

    You don't understand. You cannot go into a full rebuild without competing for the playoffs in these markets.

    He built the right foundation for the Canucks, and he built the right touches for the Ducks to win the Cup, like getting two of the best defensemen in the game in Pronger and Niedermeyer. Without those two, that Ducks team would have never gotten close to the conference finals.

    So to say he has an inability to understand how to build a winner is utter BS.
     
  30. Die-hard1

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    Re: Is it time to move on from Burke?

    Peroni - please stop throwing the word 'biased' into so many replies - it's insulting to other posters.

    Every single person is biased about everything they have an opinion about, so it's not only insulting, it's redundant.

    Thanks.
     
  31. Sir Rodney

    Sir Rodney
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    Re: Is it time to move on from Burke?

    Hi Mick,

    I don't think you read the mood in Toronto at the time of Burke's hiring. We complain out west about the Toronto bias on both TSN (for all intents and purposes the Toronto Sports Network) and the CBC (Canada's nationally subsidized television network which sees its mandate is to provide regional coverage in southern Ontario). We also get to see the Bobcat on Fan 590 Monday through Friday analyzing everything Toronto. What that did provide though is an excellent insight into what latitude Burke had when he was hired. The analysts and the fans who provided feedback were fed up with the previous regime and wanted significant, not incremental change. Burke was the man based on what he accomplished in Vancouver and Anaheim. Sure he had a better base from which to work in his two previous stints but I for one never heard anything out of Toronto that suggested the Leafs at the time were anywhere near as strong. To make the blanket statement that markets such as Toronto couldn't go into a full rebuild mode without competing for the playoffs is baseless. Normally, I would agree that would be the case but not that year. Burke had a golden opportunity to build a winning franchise from the ground up. The moment he made a lateral move by misreading his group's potential, that opportunity was lost.

    Assuming that Shakes is a typical fan (I assume by your definition that makes him biased as well) he doesn't have much choice other than to put as positive a spin on the situation as he can. That's what fans typically do. Unfortunately like meat, milk and fruit there is a limited shelf life for the product put in front of you. Eventually things get replaced. The whole point of Rikster's thread was to speculate as to whether or not Burke's expiry date is somewhere in the near future. That doesn't qualify as an anti-Burke rant. It's a legitimate question. The Leaf's today are clearly better than they were when he took over. Shakes for one is content that sufficient progress has been made and if I'm reading you correctly, you feel the same way. Rikster and I aren't as easily satisfied. I have said numerous times that I like Burke. I would far prefer to see him harrumphing with the Vancouver media than Gillis with his snooze inducing say nothing interviews. I would like to see a contender in Toronto and to have that storied franchise back to a position of prominence (losing to the Canucks in the Final of course - let's not go overboard with this). Unfortunately, that doesn't appear to be happening anytime soon. In terms of Burke, it's a question of shelf life for me. Nothing more.

    Take care.
     
  32. rikster

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    Quite the opposite...

    I've historically been a Burke fan, but my opinions are based on what have you done for me lately and had he perfomed so poorly while in Vancouver I would not historically have been a fan of his...

    Not being able to go into full rebuild mode is just an excuse for mediocre results, and into year 4 the Leafs are still not considered a playoff team...

    I'll accept Shakes opinion that the prospects are better today than they were before but as compared to other historical non playoff teams are they better?

    Kinda like driving a Ford, the new one is great as compared to the one you traded in, but as compared to a Toyota its kinda blah...

    Take care...
     
  33. Clint27

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    Personally....

    ....I think Toronto was a good goaltender away from making the playoffs every year since Burke has been here.
    I don't mind the Kessel trade..never in a million years did I think it would be #2 over all, and I don't think Burke did either. Two mid round first picks is probably what Burke thought they would be..oh well, stuff happens.
    I like the moves that Burke has made with basically NOTHING to deal with. Guys are being played out of their element, and we expect more than they're willing to give. There aren't too many teams like Boston who will give up a first line centre like Thornton for next to nothing...if there were, Burke would find it.
    I think Toronto is going to be in tough again this year. Reimer did well last year, but I think the sophmore jinx hits him, and Gustavsson will not be the saviour.
    This is a young team and I HOPE that Burke is true to his word and has Wilson on a short leash. I don't dislike Wilson, but the Leafs are just treading water with him....if they don't preform, Burke has to cut bait with Wilson....not totally blaming Ron, but, the roster HAS been turned over and still nothing.
     
  34. Sir Rodney

    Sir Rodney
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    Wow!! (Just Yanking Your Chain A Bit)

    I will give you credit Clint. That first statement gives you first place over all in the fandom loyal to a fault club. If only you had a good goaltender...

    I am having a hard time figuring exactly where you are coming from. If they were only a good goaltender away... doesn't that contradict your statement that Burke had basically NOTHING to deal with? If anything, it tells me that you misread the talent level of the team as badly as he did and still do judging by the award winner above.

    If there is a team who is willing to give up a first line centre like Thornton for next to nothing, Burke would find that. I have a hunch he would be one of 28 GMs looking to deal. Ask yourself (and be honest now), would Toronto be high on the list of teams a marquee player like that would have on his "OK To Trade Me To ..." list? Also ask yourself what package of assets would Burke be able to put together to allow him to outbid the other 28 suitors.

    Reimer or Gustavsson - are you comfortable that you have a playoff caliber number one goal tender? If not, that falls on Burke.

    If Burke gets a pass for the group of players he has in Blue and White, and Wilson is the wrong coach, that too falls on Burke.

    Please understand Clint. I am using your post with tongue firmly planted. For whatever reason, both you and Shakes seem very prepared to cut Burke a lot more slack than I think he deserves. He is the boss in Toronto and, as such, he bears full responsibility for the players as well as the coaches. He has made some good decisions and a couple of questionable ones. This November he will have been in charge for three years. He has both his supporters as well as his detractors which is to be expected. All I am suggesting is that you should be holding him to a higher standard.
     
  35. Sir Rodney

    Sir Rodney
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    The Detroit Factor

    Hi again Clint,

    Here is an interesting article from Steve Thompson who I assume is a Toronto analyst. Much of what we've been talking about is covered here. Another wrinkle I hadn't considered is having Detroit move in to the Eastern Conference. Given their history of producing winners, Thompson's point of this hindering the Leaf's chance of making the playoffs is a valid one.

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/761546-toronto-maple-leafs-brian-burke-th-th-th-th-thats-all-folks
     
  36. Clint27

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    Re: Wow!! (Just Yanking Your Chain A Bit)

    LOL...I said from MAKING the playoffs, not winning the cup.
    A number of years ago Cujo stood on his head and the Leafs went far....the Leafs havn't had that goaltending. Sure the goalie to supposed to make the first save, but the Leafs need the goalie to make the second save as well...Gustavsson doesn't do that...though I've read that he is resisting everything Allaire is trying to teach him.
    Am I comfortable with Reimer and Gustavsson as the goaltenders? No. I believe that Reimer will have more downs this year than he had ups last year, and he doesn't have a vet to lean on and help him through it all. That being said, the young guys need to play to develop and we'll have to wait for that to happen.
    If nothing else, the playoffs show that you just have to get in them and anything can happen. Should Burke be held accountable? Yes. Do you change management everytime something goes wrong? No.
    I've said before that I'm willing to put up with some crappy hockey in order to get good draft picks and have them develop, a quick fix has never worked....
     

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