Brian Burke's folly: The Toronto Maple Leafs

oopsburke.jpgJames Mirtle wrote a nice piece on the Toronto Maple Leafs, spotlighting the five biggest mistakes that Brian Burke has made in his 500+ days as the team’s general manager. Let me be honest, though – there’s plenty of other mistakes to choose from.

The biggest error was trading those crucial draft picks (a first and second rounder this year, a first rounder next year) for Phil Kessel. Mirtle has a great write-up on the gaffe, pointing out that pride and principle might have gotten in the way of Burke’s team building efforts.

For one, the Leafs could have landed Kessel via an offer sheet for $5.4-million a season, his current salary. Compensation would have been three picks – a first-rounder, a second-rounder and a third-rounder – and Toronto would have kept its 2011 first-round pick.

… Burke could have alternatively made this year’s first-round pick conditional – or “lottery protected,” as is often the case in the NBA. The condition could have been as follows: If Toronto finishes in lottery position, instead of giving up the 2010 and 2011 first-rounders, make it 2011 and 2012.

Of all the missteps, that move is the worst. But really, almost all of the big moves Burke made smell of desperation rather than sound decision making. He’s added a ton of salary in goal (Giguere’s $6 million) and on defense (Dion Phaneuf at $6.5 million, Mike Komisarek at $4.5 million and Francois Beauchemin at $3.8 million) to a team that already had a faulty structure.

In fact, after the jump I’ll share a quick salary cap breakdown just to paint that not-so-pretty picture.


Thumbnail image for phaneufer.jpg2010-11 Salary Cap Commitments (according to CapGeek.com. Figures are rounded for simplicity.)

Forwards (8 of 12): Kessel ($5.4 million), Bozak (3.73), Grabovski (2.9), Orr (1), Irwin (900k), Stalberg (850k), Caputi (833k) and Sjostrom (750k)

Defense (7 of 6): Phaneuf (6.5), Komisarek (4.5), Kaberle (4.3), Beauchemin (3.8), Finger (3.5), Schenn (2.98) and Gunnarsson (800k)

Goalies: (1 of 2): Giguere (6)

Cap space in 10-11: $11.38 million

Key re-signs: Jonas “The Monster” Gustavsson

Ugh, what a mess. Between Burke’s blunders and the mistakes of the past, the Leafs have a stunning $25.58 million wrapped up in a top 6 defense that isn’t even any good. The rumors of moving Kaberle seem to be gathering steam now because he’s just about the only blueliner they can move. Schenn is their bright side. Phaneuf, Komisarek, Beauchemin and Finger have contracts that would make Glen Sather blush.

Frankly, this team doesn’t look promising. They have all those Pension Plan bucks to spend but they have so many holes to fill with a rotten roster. Sure, they have the occasional nice prospect like Nazem Kadri, but chances are they won’t just be giving the Bruins a great draft pick this year but possibly next year too. The only thing I can say is that maybe – just maybe – Toronto will have a chance to turn things aroung in the 2011-12 season because Giguere’s contract will expire (as will Kaberle’s, if he is still with the team).

Brian Burke is a great hockey mind and brings bushels of unintentional comedy to the table, but the club’s win-now approach turned the Toronto Maple Leafs into a tragicomedy of a team. Now, if someone would listen to my advice and install a Burke Cam during next week’s draft lottery …

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    WATCH LIVE: Blues at Sharks – Game 6

    ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 23:  Alexander Steen #20 of the St. Louis Blues, Brent Burns #88 of the San Jose Sharks, and Joe Thornton #19 argue with a referee during the second period in Game Five of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 23, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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    The San Jose Sharks can make franchise history on home ice tonight against the St. Louis Blues. Win, and the Sharks clinch their first ever trip to the Stanley Cup Final. Lose, and it’s back to St. Louis for a deciding Game 7 in the Western Conference Final.

    You can catch tonight’s Game 6 on NBCSN (9 p.m. ET) or online with the NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

    CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

    Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:

    Tarasenko needs to start ‘playing within the system’: Hitch

    On the brink of elimination, Blues turn back to Elliott

    The Blues could sure use a goal or two from Tarasenko

    Stanley Cup Final to begin Monday

     

    ‘There’s still lots of room for growth’: Stars GM preaches patience with Nichushkin

    Valeri Nichushkin
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    Valeri Nichushkin has the tools — listed at six-foot-four-inches tall and 205 pounds with devastating speed. He has the skill.

    However, now at the end of his entry-level contract, the 10th overall draft pick for the Dallas Stars in 2013 has endured the highs and lows associated with a young player trying to make his mark in the National Hockey League after a promising rookie campaign.

    For starters, his sophomore 2014-15 season was essentially wiped out — he played only eight games for the Stars — by a hip injury that required surgery. He also didn’t get off to the greatest start this season, and coming back from surgery likely played a factor as to why, as he found his way into Lindy Ruff’s doghouse early on.

    As a result, was made a healthy scratch.

    His bottom line offensive numbers included nine goals and 29 points in 79 games played, and one assist in 10 playoff games for the Stars, as they were eliminated in the second round.

    Still, he’s just 21 years old. When playing with top players like Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, he was able to get on a bit of a roll offensively.

    Stars GM Jim Nill, speaking on SiriusXMNHL, referenced the difficulty for a young player coming back off surgery, but remains confident in Nichushkin.

    “We’re happy with Val,” he said (at around the 5:30 mark).

    “Came back this year, got off to a slow start because of that. We thought the last five games of the playoffs, he really started to look like himself. He started to dominate down low and in the corners.

    “He is only 21. I know there’s still lots of room for growth, so we’re going to be patient with him. We think he’s a big part of our future.”

     

    Coyotes hire new COO

    GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 09:  Fans line up outside of Gila River Arena before the NHL game between the Arizona Coyotes and the Winnipeg Jets on October 9, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Jets defeated the Coyotes 6-2.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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    GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) The Arizona Coyotes have hired Anaheim Ducks executive Ari Segal as chief operating officer.

    The move was announced by the team on Wednesday.

    Segal previously served as a special assistant to Anaheim CEO Michael Schulman and as president of business operations for the Ducks’ AHL affiliate in San Diego.

    Segal helped with preparations for the new AHL club and recently worked with the NHL in the league’s broadcast media strategy group, evaluating league and team broadcast rights and distribution deals.

    Segal previously worked as an associate in the sports practice at McKinsey & Company, a New York-based management consulting firm.

    Related: The Coyotes are going in a ‘new direction,’ and that’s an understatement

    Jackets re-sign Sedlak, AHL affiliate’s leading playoff scorer

    COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 20:  Lukas Sedlak #85 of the Columbus Blue Jackets waits for the pass during the game against the Winnipeg Jets on September 20, 2011 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus Ohio.  The Blue Jackets defeated the Jets 5-1.  (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
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    Columbus farmhand Lukas Sedlak, who currently sits tied atop AHL Lake Erie’s playoff scoring leaderboard, has signed a one-year, two-way deal, the Jackets announced on Wednesday.

    Sedlak, 23, was a fifth-round pick in 2011 that’s spent the last three years in the American League. This season was by far his most successful — in addition to potting a career-best 14 goals, he’s become close to a point-a-game producer in the playoffs, with 11 through 12 games.

    “Sedlak has been on a run for us with goal-scoring,” Lake Erie head coach Jared Bednar said, per the Columbus Dispatch. “He’s not a guy who does it for us every night. But he works so hard in all the other areas.”

    Sedlak has yet to make his NHL debut, but could be in the mix for a recall next season.