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Brian Burke wants to make the Leafs better – now

Jan 11, 2012, 10:19 PM EDT

Brian Burke Getty Images

Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke went on Fan 590 with Bob McCown and Damien Cox on Wednesday and – as usual – didn’t just trot out the same old cliches. Instead, he provided a very frank state of his team (as well as some hilarious critiques of Sports Illustrated), and the general takeaway is that he’s itching to make a trade.

When the radio hosts asked Burke if he’s done making deals, Burke said this:

“My answer is no. If I can improve this team tomorrow I’ll make a deal tomorrow that improves it.”

The January guy

Burke admitted that he’s a “January guy,” as he made many of his biggest moves – including acquiring Dion Phaneuf via a big trade – well before the trade deadline rolled around.

“(General managers) make more mistakes at the deadline and on July 1 then during the rest of the year. The math doesn’t work at the deadline … I’ve never been a big deadline guy.”

OK, so we’ve established that he wants to make a deal and would prefer to do so sooner rather than later. The biggest question is, what will Burke’s biggest focus be: the present or the future?

“It depends. If I could get a kid that I really believe was going to be special, I always do that unless I thought we thought we were going to have a parade … we’re looking to add and get better now.”

What Burke wants and doesn’t want

Burke admitted that “Age group asset trades” are a possibility, which means he’d be interested in trading a 22-year-old player with another 22-year-old with a different skill set. Perhaps most interestingly, Burke would also be willing than to move a first-round pick for a guy who can help him this season (and most importantly, the playoffs).

One thing Burke won’t be looking for is a veteran goalie, though, as he provided effusive praise of Jonas Gustavsson‘s surprising recent run of play.

So which trades could come true?

Looking into the latest rumors, it would seem like the Luke Schenn to Philadelphia talk might not hold much weight but that Ryan Getzlaf stuff could make some sense.

That doesn’t mean he’s moments away from pulling the trigger on that or any other deal, but Burkie’s latest interview is basically a colorful way of saying: “Go ahead and make up random trade ideas in the comments and on random message boards.”

  1. bcisleman - Jan 11, 2012 at 11:12 PM

    Is there any news here? Burkie has always been a now guy. If he had to do a genuine rebuild, he’d go nuts. Only news here is that Burkie (apparently is willing to part with Schenn.

  2. ikillchicken - Jan 11, 2012 at 11:33 PM

    His past attempts to make the team better right now is precisely the reason they’re currently mediocre.

    You just can’t build a great team via trades. You need to build through the draft and that takes time.

    • drewsylvania - Jan 12, 2012 at 12:23 AM

      To be fair, the Kessel deal has worked out well, and the Kaberle deal should be excellent provided Burke doesn’t trade the picks away. I guess that’s a big if.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Jan 12, 2012 at 5:34 AM

        This team has only gotten better since Burkie took the reigns.

  3. tmjm621 - Jan 12, 2012 at 12:17 AM

    Trade colton orr and a first rounder to the rangersnfor christensen and wolski or avery hahaha

  4. habsman - Jan 12, 2012 at 10:00 AM

    The Kessel trade netted Boston: Seguin, Jarred Knight I believe, and Doug Hamilton. Within two years, Hamilton will be a better “D” man than anybody on the Leafs. Knight has great potential and we know Seguin will be a number one center for the next ten years. Yes, Kessel is a very good goal scorer. But if you were a GM today, would you trade Seguin, Knight and Hamilton for Kessel? Boston won that trade hands down. The Leafs have missed the playoffs seven consecutive years (four under “Burkie”). Not too sure they’re better now than before he got there.

    • canuckteach - Jan 12, 2012 at 4:25 PM

      habsman: what does “I’m not too sure… ” mean? that you can’t venture an opinion on whether Leafs are better or not? did the Leafs have 2 of the top 5 scorers in the NHL 4 years ago? did they have a speedy young team then or a team of aging veterans with no upside? Was Toscala better than Monster or Reimer? Does a team with Kadri, Colborne, and Gardiner developing not have better prospects than the ‘zero-prospects-in-the-AhL’ sadsacks of 4 years ago? I think the answer is obvious, but have the decency to state your opinion and justify it – don’t offer a feeble “I’m not sure….” – that translates to ‘I have nothing of value to say’. And your analysis of Kessel is so ‘played’, man. Largely because of Kessel, Leafs PP is in the top-5, and Lupul is playing wonderfully (both are going to the All-Star game). A player’s impact on his team can NOT be measured by what assets were ‘allegedly’ given up to acquire him, because we can’t measure the impact of those other players on THIS team (2 of those you mentioned are NOT NHL players yet).

      • habsman - Jan 12, 2012 at 9:55 PM

        It way too early to judge. Have they made the playoffs yet?

        OK, sorry. You’re right. The Leafs are great. Go plan that parade…again. Geez…kinda touchy arent we?

  5. elguapo12 - Jan 12, 2012 at 11:02 AM

    Didn’t he say that four years ago? And isn’t that his job?

  6. elguapo12 - Jan 12, 2012 at 11:07 AM

    And who on earth do the leafs have to trade? Frattin? Kadri the bust? schenn the underachiever? Bet Burke wishes he had the sack to snag Turris last month…

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