Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I've got those ol' "Trade Deadline Blues"

Well, I've had a night to think about the passing of another NHL Trade Deadline and....I don't feel any better about the moves Brian Burke has made the past two weeks. He got good return on his trades, unless what you are looking for is imminent improvement to the team or veteran leadership for the kids. In that case, he gets a failing grade. Again, keep Versteeg and trade the coach. That's the most important piece to the puzzle right now, for with Wilson at the helm we will never attract vital free agents nor will any of the young kids get over the hump for good.
Every team the Leafs are up against for the 8th spot made moves to improve the 2010-2011 team. The Leafs did not. That speaks volumes to another lost season for Toronto and its fans. Burke claims that it "kills him" not to make the playoffs, yet he is doing all he can to have it happen yet again this year - even going on record as saying the playoffs "mean nothing" to him if they "are going to get blown out in the first round". So Burke, apparently, only wants to make the playoffs in 4th place or higher.
I understand "rebuilding" is a gradual process, but the Leafs haven't made the playoffs in 6 years. Where is our Sidney Crosby? Our Alex Ovechkin? Our Jonathan Toews, our Steve Stamkos, our Evgeni Malkin, our Taylor Hall? 6 years of ineptitude (the worst in the team's history) and the best we can offer is Phil Kessel - for whom we gave up 2 Taylor Halls, potentially? By now, with this much time in the weeds, we should have the solid foundation for several years of at the very least strong competitiveness if not outright Cup challenging.
But we don't. We have a plan to "build from the net out" which has left us relying on a kid who started the year fourth on the depth chart as our goalie. We have 2 semi-solid defencemen (one of whom - Gunnarsson - was a healthy scratch for portions of this season), a promising rookie (Aulie, who was thrown into a trade on the insistence of the 2nd assistant GM), a mediocre and fading captain and two more that wouldn't likely crack the lineup of virtually any other team in the NHL. There is no real help on the farm. Three years of Brian Burke "building from the net out" and we have no real foundation there. We traded away arguably our two best and most consistent defencemen this year for draft picks and prospects - one of whom doesn't even play defence. Nobody is available to replace them.
Many years of watching professional sports has convinced me that you do not trade away important cogs of your team's lineup unless you 1) get an immediate return on the trade; 2) have someone else ready to step into that spot immediately; or 3) are beginning a full rebuild of your talent base. In the cases of Beauchemin and Kaberle, the first 2 points were not met, so what does that leave us with? Is it really possible that, three years into Burke's tenure here, he is only now starting a full rebuild? Can he really be that audacious?
Kaberle should have been dealt 2 years ago. Whatever return he would have brought then would possibly have started to bear fruit now. Beauchemin was perhaps a decent move as it opened up a spot for Aulie (but also Lebda) and that jury is still out. Versteeg was a disaster. We moved three prospects to get him in the first place and then gave him up for two draft picks 6 months later simply because he didn't get along with the coach. Not a good thing, ever.
And now Burke is telling us he won't likely re-sign our leading scorer to a long-term deal.
How is this team going to be better next year? What is the carrot for future seasons? Who are the young, talented stars of tomorrow in our minor league system?
Where is our Sidney Crosby?

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