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Trade rumours keep Leafland ever interesting

A couple of weeks or so ago, I posted on 10 things I thought the Leaf brass was likely “thinking”.  Of course, I acknowledged at the time that I had no real idea.  But I shared some things that I sensed they may well wish they could do or indeed may at least be thinking about.

This week, I’ve seen some interesting discussion on Twitter about Burke and how he conducts his trade discussions.  As in, he never lets media/thefans know what he is really going to do.

I understand that perspective, but I guess I look at how he handles these things in a slightly different light.  There is no question that, for example, the Aulie/Phaneuf deal came (for most of us mere fans/mortals) out of “nowhere”.  And because we all sensed that it was--and was going to continue to be--an awfully good trade for the Leafs, we were thrilled.  We didn’t need to be “tipped off”.  In fact, that we had no clue made it even sweeter and much more fun. (For me, it was much like the Frank Mahovlich trade in late winter, 1968…there was no internet, but people truly had no idea that was coming--one of the biggest trades, to this day, in Maple Leaf history.)

But didn’t we know for ages that Burke was after Phil Kessel one way or another?  He eventually got his man, at a price that, depending on the day and time (and how young Phil’s shooting eye is at any moment in time) we either happily accept or decide we just don’t want to talk about (or even think about) any more.

There’s no question that some of Burke’s biggest moves have come suddenly, when Leafdom wasn’t anticipating it.  But at the same time, considering he is always utilizing his many friendly media contacts to help get messages "out there" that he wants to see in print/online, we all recognize it’s a big game being played by Leaf management to, at the end of the day, send a simple message: we are doing everything we can to make this club better.

The latest this week:  Franson is (supposedly?) available.  This would be a small shock except we know that he has already ticked the coach off, and everyone in town now loves Raymond…. I mean Jake Gardiner.  So Franson could be the next Kris Versteeg.  We wanted you, but don’t like what we saw, so goodbye.

How do we really know these things, if any of this "speculation" might be accurate?  We don’t.  Well, we have media folks like Darren Dreger at The Fan 590 (honestly, I get all the talking heads confused…I think it's Dreger)) saying it, and we have to assume someone is telling him something, eh?  These guys are completely making this stuff up, are they?

Of course, the Leafs feed him stuff, though they will never admit that they are the ones initiating media contact—or trade discussions.  They alwayswant us to think that other teams are approaching them, as though they don’t shop their players.


Then there is Pierre LeBrun, I think it is, at TSN radio (at least that’s where Pierre is this week…he keeps moving around…).  What is that clip they keep playing to promote their so-called "insiders"….that an NHL GM told him that the Leafs were shopping Gunnarsson to gauge interest in the young defenseman?

You have to believe that actually happened.  Just like Burke tells the media guys what he wants them to know.

Hey, it’s all good fun for fans, though, as I opined recently, I would be less than enthralled with the Leafs if they ever actually moved Gunnarsson.  They had better get a king’s ransom if they are going to move a guy with his smarts, subtle skills (and potential to be a true All-Star defensemen, in my mind) at his young age, just because we love the fact that Gardiner can skate and so, hey, we don’t need Gunner anymore.

I mean, that’s a great and highly prized skill (skating ability and speed from the back end) for a defenseman, and Gardiner has smarts and poise, too.  But I want to see how he plays against good teams, against rugged teams, and against players when they are serious—and that means springtime and the NHL playoffs, which is an entirely different game than the hockey we are seeing now in October.

So my thought is pretty basic.  Sometimes Burke tips his hand, sometimes he doesn’t.  He likes to use the media, and does it any time he can.  But other GM’s play that game, too, when it suits their purposes.  He’s hardly alone, or a master manipulator.

Is Burke planning to do something?  Sure.  Just about every GM is if, as the cliché goes, they can “make their team better…”. 

Who wants to make their team worse?

But as much as this team needs quality forwards (and right now, we have lots of forwards, we’re just not sure how many are high-end NHL players…), as I have said here many times, you have to be 10-deep to go deep in to the playoffs.  And while we seem to have the luxury of depth on the backline that the Leafs have not had in quite some time, (and yes, someone has to be moved to bring in bonafide NHL forwards in return), I would think long and hard before I move Franson—much less Gunner.

It’s a long season, and I would not want to be deluded by another nice start against middlish opposition (we’ve seen the results of two games on the road against good teams) and some youngsters who look good in what amounts to early-season play.

There is no rush to make a move.  The answer may lie within anyway—in Frattin, Colborne, Kadri, etc.  But it will take time before any of us really know.


  1. "Who wants to make their team worse?"
    Well, the Sens did just send Zibanejad back to Europe.......can they actually get any worse, though?
    "But as much as this team needs quality forwards"
    We do, though, have at least one too many centers if they're all healthy. Maybe Franson + ?Bozak could net us something useful in return.

  2. Long suffering Leaf fanOctober 27, 2011 at 9:09 AM

    Whatever happens, I hope that Burke has his eye on obtaining a power forward...particular a center... and a mobile physical defenseman to help out on the power play and penalty kill...the special teams are an eye sore!

  3. Great read, and I agree that a bit of patience will go a long way with all the prospects we have, including with the Marlies and the coaching staff are doing a heck of job on juggling players and the best team on the ice. This team is still finding their game and when they do, it'll get a little crazy in TO. always big expectations and we deserve it. Lets ruin this party in NYC. Not like they wouldn't to us.