Monday, June 29, 2009

No big splash at the draft from Brian Burke

Prior to the draft Brian Burke did an awful lot of talking about how he was going to use the draft to remake the Leafs, how he was going to move up to get an impact player, and on and on and on. I had this sneaking suspicion that he was going to fall short of his rhetoric. GMs have increased the value of draft picks under the salary cap. The days of " draft, shmaft" are over.

Moving up in the draft was a near impossible goal. The Islanders have a dwindling fan base and need a marquee player to market. They had to draft John Tavares. A trade with Tampa Bay right now is next to impossible because the two leading owners do not agree on the direction the club should take. It is unlikely that a trade of their first pick would have gotten both their blessing. However, we will never know because Burke has counting on the Islanders not picking Tavres and that didn't go his way. The Colorado GM has been at the job for only a couple of weeks and you don't start your tenure by trading away your first pick. Both Atlanta and Phoenix are financial messes so trading their first pick would also be counter intuitive. So that means no chance at John Tavares or Braydon Schenn.

Ironically the team that did make a big splash at the draft was Anaheim. Burke' successor in Anaheim, Bob Murray has done a fine job at rebuilding his team by moving Chris Pronger for a cartful of prospects and draft picks. Murray achieved the almost impossible task of getting younger, cheaper and more explosive offensively. Moving Pronger will allow him to make offers to some of the Ducks' free agents he would like to retain.

That's not to say that Burke failed at the draft. He took the initial steps to draft players that will eventually fill the gaps in the Leafs roster in terms of toughness and size. You can't assess the success of a draft until years down the road. But Burke has done his homework and clearly has a plan. The first pick Nazem Kadri doesn't really have the size but was the best player available when the Leafs first picked. But there is no question why Jame Davane was picked. He is the toughest fighter in junior hockey.

I will provide more insight into these picks when I return from my vacations. In the meantime Burke will continue to mouth off on the world as he sees it. Just remember the rest of the world doesn't really care what he has to say.