The One(s) That Got Away


    Five trades that almost happened.  Count ’em, five separate deals.   So close, yet so far away.

    A very good source has it that Brian Burke saw five separate draft day deals fall apart in the last minute of each.   He worked his tail off on each, only to see the other teams back out in the end for a myriad of reasons.  Yet despite these disappointments,  Burke was still able to land a very good player in Nazim Kadri at #7, so the draft wasn’t a total loss by any means.

    The Fab Five


    Sources say the deal in play was Atlanta’s 4th overall pick and Colby Armstrong for Tomas Kaberle and both of Toronto’s 2nd rd picks.    Burke replied that if Atlanta wanted both those picks, they would have to give up Bryan Little instead of Armstrong.   Waddell said get bent, he wasn’t moving his #1 centre, and the deal was dead.   UPDATE: I am hearing that Waddell was asking for the Leafs‘ 1st and a 2nd plus Kaberle, not both 2nds plus Kaberle.  No wonder Burke asked for Little instead of Armstrong.  Now it makes sense.

    Los Angeles

    After the Atlanta deal fell through, Burke moved quickly to plan B, aggressively pitching options at LA for the 5th overall.   LA refused, for reasons that are not quite clear.  One source referred to GM Dean Lombardi as “a puppet” on this one.  I take that to mean that LA’s ownership quashed the idea of trading for what was probably Kaberle … another source mentioned the owners want to reserve cap space to make a move on an impact forward.     In other words, you could say that Lombardi basically morphed into John Ferguson Jr during the course of the day, told Burke to get bent and let the ownership make the decisions for him.


    Anyone watching the draft saw Bryan Murray get completely owned by Burke prior to the Leafs‘ pick.   Prior to the Leafs‘ pick coming up, Burke and Murray had been discussing flipping the pick, in a deal that would have seen the Leafs‘ pick up a 2nd and 3rd from Ottawa.  Murray really wanted Kadri, but told Burke that he could get bent if he wanted both those picks.  Burke was content to draft Kadri at 7, but knowing Murray wanted him he offered him one last chance to complete the deal.   TSN audio picked up Burke asking Murray if he wanted Kadri, Murray said yes, and Burke said, too bad we’re taking him — giving Murray one last chance to deal.  Murray said no, and the Leafs got Kadri at 7 while the Sens wound up picking Cowan at 9.


    Burke did not consider trading down.  This deal was put into play after the Leafs drafted at 7.   With Minnesota looking to move their pick, the story goes that Burke insisted that Josh Harding be a part of any deal.   This one was actually pretty close to happening, and would have been a similar deal to the rumour reported a couple days earlier (Harding, Zidlicky, and the 12 for Kaberle + White + a 2nd is what one contact suggested it may have been).   In the end, GM Chuck Fletcher decided that his team would be further ahead to keep the young goaltender for the time being, told Burke to get bent and walked away from the deal in order to trade down for additional picks with NYI.


    You all know the story here, I think.  This was on/off all day and night.   Here’s what happened:  Bruins GM Chiarelli offered Kessel for Kaberle and the Leafs’ 1st rd pick. That did not fly.  Burke counter offered Kaberle for Kessel and the Bruins’ 1st rd pick.  That too did not fly.  Somewhere along the lines there was a mixup and each team thought their offer was the deal.    By the time the draft started, the deal was on life support … but sometime during the draft the two teams started talking again with Kaberle-Kessel being the basis of a deal.   However, each GM felt the other was overvaluing his player, as both continued to demand draft picks without wanting to give up any themselves.   By the time the draft was over, Burke and Chiarelli decided they had each had enough of telling the other to get bent, and the deal was officially dead.


    So, that’s the story.   To all those who ripped on Burke for getting nothing done, you have to know that he did everything he could to try to make a deal happen, short of moving Luke Schenn (which he will not do).  One source in contact with team personnel said that those at the draft table with Burke commented that they had never seen him work so hard.

    (BTW The running ‘get bent’ gag is a bit of an inside joke.  Exact quote during an email exchange with a source: “Brian is getting told to get bent by everyone. Who knows what will happen now. This is sad. No matter the offer, we get turned down.”)

    Trust me, no one is more disappointed or upset at today’s lack of action on the trade front as Burke.   The look on his face as the draft progressed said it all.    It is almost a guarantee that he will make a big splash this summer – and quite possibly even tomorrow – to make up for it.