Burke Reiterates Leafs ‘Open For Business’, Again


Nothing gets Leafs Nation into a frenzy quicker than some good old fashioned trade rumours and with the recent news breaking that Brian Burke is “open for business” it was obviously going to make headlines.  Bob McKenzie was told by his sources that the Leafs had an offer on the table involving two bottom six forwards coming to Toronto for one of our current NHL bottom six forwards and an AHL player.  Burke basically inferred the offer was half way decent so it likely would have solidified our bottom six forward lines slightly, but nothing to really get worked up about.

Burke was quoted:

“We have cap space and budget space, and I would say we hadn’t even gotten a sniff until the last two days, and now it’s finally starting to heat up,” said Burke. “We’re encouraged that we’re finally starting to get something on the line. Everyone knew we had space and budget room, and nothing was happening. Now I’m a little more encouraged.”

By deductive reasoning we can probably ascertain which forward the Leafs were willing to part with, or another team might have actually wanted.  First, we can easily scratch Mike Brown, Colby Armstrong, Freddy Sjostrom and Colton Orr as all three are beloved by Brian Burke or Ron Wilson (Sjostrom) and each fill a role the Leafs covet.  That leaves Mike Zigomanis, Tim Brent and John Mitchell.

As you can tell this probably didn’t even deserve to be mentioned but this is the first trade rumour of 2010/11 and I was bored so sue me.  Of the three I’d guess John Mitchell has the most value on the trade market (if that says much) as Brent and Zigomanis have already made their organizational rounds and there could be a team out there that believes Mitchell has some untapped potential, plus he is still a cheap option and one would have to assume teams are hoping the Leafs can help out a bit with their own salary cap issues.

It is anybody’s guess who the Toronto Marlies player would have been. I am not sure if it is also a ‘bottom six’ type forward or possibly a defenseman, though it is doubtful Burke would move any of the promising young defenseman we have down there whether it is Korbinian Holzer, Keith Aullie or Simon Gysbers.  It is also unlikely another team is willing to take on Jeff Finger’s contract so early into the season so the player involved is likely not of much consequence either.

It also raises the question as to exactly who would have been out of a job if a trade like this was made or if Burke is actively trying to improve the bottom six as Bob McKenzie alluded to on his twitter account.  With no realistic (or economically feasible) top six options (and forget about a legit number one centre) there is talk the Maple Leafs will try to shore up the bottom six, but if there has been one real source of strength and stability early into the season I’d say the bottom six forwards has been it.

Tim Brent has won face-offs, scored a couple timely goals while Mike Brown has infused the team with energy and is a strong penalty killer.  Colton Orr is Brian Burke’s guy and has played well above his normal level early.  Colby Armstrong has been slightly disappointing to me but is clearly not going anywhere after signing a fairly lucrative three-year contract in the off season and has shown glimpses of what can offer to the Leafs.

To conclude the bottom six forwards have done their jobs and have performed them above expectations thus far while the chemistry has also been solid and that is not something a wise GM like Burke would be looking to mess up.

This feels more like a case of Brian Burke getting the message out that the Leafs are officially open for business and have the cap space to prove it.  Notice how he was also quoted as saying “we have budget space” which translated to me as meaning we will take your garbage for an asset or two and have the ability to bury said player in the minor leagues if need be.  So give us your weak, tired and your poor along with a draft pick or two and we might have something.

Stay tuned…

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