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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    Video: Mika Zibanejad’s check to Tyler Bozak’s head

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    Saturday’s been unkind to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and not just on the scoreboard (where it’s 3-0 early on against the Ottawa Senators).

    The Maple Leafs lost Tyler Bozak to an apparent upper-body injury thanks to a questionable hit by Sens forward Mika Zibanejad.

    You can judge that check (which drew a minor penalty for illegal check to the head) in the video above. Again, Bozak will not return to tonight’s game.

    It’s unclear if Bozak will miss time beyond this contest.

    Malcolm Subban hospitalized after taking puck to throat

    Malcolm Subban
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    Scary stuff on Saturday: multiple reporters (including the Maine Hockey Journal’s Chris Roy) note that Malcolm Subban was taken to a hospital after a puck struck his throat during warm-ups.

    There’s no word yet on Subban’s condition beyond that he was taken away in an ambulance.

    The AHL’s Providence Bruins seem like they’ve been left scrambling for a backup goalie in Subban’s absence.

    Subban stated days ago that he’s taken some significant steps forward during the 2015-16 season.

     

    Senators get Kyle Turris back on Saturday

    Ottawa Senators' Kyle Turris celebrates his game-winning goal against the Montreal Canadiens during overtime of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015, in Montreal. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP)
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    The Ottawa Senators cannot pin all of their troubles on missing their No. 1 center, yet it probably feels like a huge relief to get him back.

    After missing six games with his latest injury, Kyle Turris is in the lineup as the Senators take on the Toronto Maple Leafs.

    Again, it’s not all a matter of missing Turris, but the Senators went 1-5-0 during his six-game absence. They’ve really been falling since late December, to be honest.

    Will Turris be enough to stop the bleeding? Perhaps to an extent, but the Senators are in for a serious battle if they hope to fight through the East bubble.

    Habs’ win was a showcase for P.K. Subban, Connor McDavid

    Montreal Canadiens defensemen  P.K. Subban (76) holds off Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Montreal, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. (Graham Hughes /The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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    Times have been tough for Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers fans lately, even if they’ve been frustrating in different ways.

    Saturday’s 5-1 Habs win highlights a few things, but the most tantalizing thought for those fans is that it’s likely that we’ll see more great things from P.K. Subban and Connor McDavid … sometimes against each other.

    Perhaps this will be a confidence booster for Montreal. More than anything else, it directed attention to Subban, who’s quietly been absolutely fantastic for the floundering Canadiens.

    Consider how much of an offensive burden he’s currently carrying:

    From one current All-Star to someone who could be a perennial one: McDavid certainly seemed to grab Subban’s attention.

    Then again, when you make moves like these, who won’t notice?

    The Oilers did lose, mind you, so it’s not surprising that Todd McLellan mentioned that the team can’t depend upon McDavid for everything.

    That said, the funny thing about that quote is that McDavid might just carry the Oilers for two decades, at least if health and other factors go the right way.

    If that’s true, Subban vs. McDavid could be a fun matchup to watch a few times per season for a long, long time.