Friday, February 13, 2009

What is Brian Burke up to?

The big shake up everyone was expecting with the hiring of Brian Burke hasn’t happened. The salary cap almost forces teams to freeze their rosters because trades involving an exchange of significant assets always have salary cap implications. So major roster moves occur during the offseason. The only exception is during the days leading up to the trade deadline when desperate or panicky GMs temporarily lose their minds.

Now I never said there are no trades during the season. In fact 40 players have been traded so far this season. Three players (David McIntyre, Nick Tarnasky, Clay Wilson) have been actually traded twice this season. What, you’ve never heard of these guys? Well how about big names like Wade Belak, Steve Downie and Matt Carle? In fact the player who had the most points and was involved in a trade is Lee Stempniak.

But expect Burke to be active in the days leading up to the March 4th deadline. He has stated that besides Luke Schenn, there is no one on the roster essential for a rebuild of the Leafs. So look for a fire sale in the next few weeks. Everything must go!

So you might ask what about the recent rash of waiver moves by Brian Burke? Last week Stefan Kronwall was lost on waivers to Washington. Jeremy Williams was put on waivers but not picked up by anyone so he was demoted to the Marlies. Then Burke used recallable waivers to bring up Bates Battaglia and Boyd Devereaux. What’s that all about?

Besides the fact the Burke is known for constantly tinkering with his lineup (as opposed to Ferguson who rarely touched his roster), he also likes to give veteran players who are not in his plans a chance to catch on with another team. No team would actually trade for one of these players but they might consider a waiver claim. So why give up something for nothing? Why not keep them on the Marlies?

Well there is also a provision in the collective bargaining agreement that limits the number of players (50) a team can have signed to a contract. The number includes signed players in the minors. So Burke is providing himself with some roster space for when he makes his deadline deals by putting players on the waiver wire. Remember he is likely trying to move veteran players like Antropov and Kaberle for multiple prospects. If he has 50 players on his reserve list, then he can only make one for one deals.