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Monday, November 28, 2011

5 Best Moves made by Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke

These five trades brought the Toronto Maple Leafs Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf, John Michael Liles, Joe Colborne, Tyler Biggs, Cody Franson, Matt Lombardi and Keith Aulie. Has any other NHL General Manager come even close to this bounty over the past three years?

1. Beauchemin for Gardiner and Lupul - I would have loved getting Gardiner straight up for Beauch as knew him from USA juniors, and at the time the extra "cost" to obtain Jake G was being willing to take on Lupul's contract. Aaaaahhh, well, ya okay, I think we can do that.

2. Kaberle for Joe Colborne and two draft picks (one used as main bait to move up for Biggs, the other traded straight up for Liles) - Boston got a Cup, and Burke and Leafs fans owe Kaberle big time, for his foresight in choosing the team that could afford him and that he could help win the Stanley Cup. Mats Sundin may have done something similar in his waning years, yet he probably loved the City of Toronto more than the team (he also did not get to work with a GM of Burke's calibre and influence).

3. Two 1st rounders for Phil Kessel - Most feel the Leafs lost or broke even on this one but if you look at the "team" Burke inherited when he arrived, he really did need to bring in a top level player to begin building a team around. The price (Tyler Seguin, Jared Knight and Doug Hamilton) turned out to be very high, however as the Leafs are now the youngest team in the NHL and Kessel is among the best goal scorers on the planet, this trade is smelling sweeter as time goes by. He's two years younger than Ovechkin and two months younger than Crosby, and Canada better watch out for him (and Jake Gardiner) at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

4. Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman, Ian White and Jamal Mayers for Dion Phaneuf, Fredrik Sjostrom and Keith Aulie - The Leafs have a strong winning record whenever Dion is in the lineup (ditto for Aulie), and he is the best Leafs captain since Dougie Gilmour. I would trade those four players for Dion straight up, so whatever becomes of Keith "Muhammad" Aulie, this was a move that had to be done.

5. Brett Lebda and Robert Slaney for Cody Franson and Matthew Lombardi - I understand that having a deep-pocketed team helps with straight salary dump deals, however in this case we got to dump salary also. If Nashville's recent woes worsen, GM David Poile could be on the hot seat, but goalie Pekka Rinne (.925, 2.47, 10 wins) has proved worthy of the dollars freed up.

5B. Not trading Franson in early 2011-2012, despite numerous offers.

5C. Getting Liles for a 2nd rounder (compare to price Boston paid for Kaberle 3-month rental).

Resurgent Monster means Jussi Rynnas on the bubble

Props to both Burke and Wilson for sticking with Gustavsson when it seemed like he'd never recover the form he had before going down twice with the heart ailment in 2010-2011. Over the past few games we may have been witnessing a newly confident, far more experienced Monster, one who may actually challenge Reimer for Leafs' net supremacy.

Scrivens can lead the Marlies to the AHL's Calder Cup championship, where Owuya can solidly back him up. Sending Rynnas to the ECHL would just devalue him, so look for Jussi to be traded within 10 days, for a big forward prospect or a 3rd round draft pick.

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