TORONTO- Since being named the President and General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Brian Burke has exercised his best efforts to create a team that can represent what he wants a hockey club to look like.
But before joining Toronto, Burke had to step down from the Anaheim Ducks GM role he already possessed. He did so on November 12th, 2008 when it was announced by Anaheim Ducks CEO Michael Shulman that Anaheim would be moving forward without him.
Burke never had a falling out in Anaheim, but rather chose to not sign an extension on his contract citing family as his reason. It was always suspected by those in hockey that he wanted to be closer to the east coast where his children resided. When the future seemed clear that Burke would not stay in Anaheim, both sides mutually moved ahead with Ducks Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations Bob Murray taking over Burke’s role.
So on November 29th, 2008 Burke was introduced as the new boss in Leaf land. And whether you agree or not with the transactions he’s made, as he now enters his third full season with the Leafs, he has always been on the hunt for anything from a top line centre (Connolly will attempt it) to prospects and assets.
Oddly enough, the more moves he’s made, the more history of the Ducks comes into play. With his plan of truculence and pugnacity at the forefront, Burke has made nothing short of 11 transactions with Ducks personal as GM of Toronto.
Not all have had or will have serious meaning to the future of the Leafs, but here is each transaction, in order of date.
January 7th 2009 Acquires Brad May for conditional 6th round pick in 2010
With very little toughness on the Leafs roster, Burke’s first move was trading for veteran tough guy Brad May. Before May joined late in the season, many of the Leafs battles were being fought by Ryan Hollweg, Jamal Mayers or Marlies call-up Andre Deveaux. May finished out the season in a Leafs uniform, doing what was asked of him as a role player. His highlight came when he played his 1000th NHL game on April 8th against his long time team the Buffalo Sabres. He would not resign and finished his career a year later with the Detroit Red Wings.
January 10th 2009 Signs Goalie Coach Francois Allaire
Burkes next move with his former club was hiring goalie coach Francois Allaire. Known as the creator of “butterfly” goaltending, Allaire has been a significant part in not only developing young goalie prospects, but enticing them to come play in Toronto. Jonas Gustavsson, Ben Scrivens and Jussi Rynnas mention the French Pioneer as the main reason they have joined the Leafs organization. And after the Leafs most recent prospects camp, you can add Mark Owuya to that list as well.
July 6th 2009 Signs Francois Beauchemin
In his first official off-season, Burke stated he would build his team from the goal out. Wanting to signify a change on defence, he signed Francois Beauchemin to a three year deal at a $3.8 million dollar average. The Quebec natives start in Leafs blue never went well as he was on the ice for the first eight goals of his first season. He would get better from that point on, but never was what Toronto expected and was shipped back to Anaheim in a future deal.
July 6th 2009 Signs Tim Brent
Tim Brent didn’t come to the Leafs directly from the Ducks. In fact he played for both the Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks affiliates before being signed by Burke. Brent was however part of the Ducks system in 2007 when they won the cup. The majority of his time with the organization was spent in the minors with Cincinnati and Portland but his 15 games in an Anaheim uniform came under Burke’s tenure.
August 10th 2009 Trades Justin Pogge for 2011 Conditional Draft Pick
A 2004, draft pick, Justin Pogge was regarded as the next goalie of the future. His great play at World Juniors raised the expectations of him being only a 3rd round pick and when former GM John Ferguson Jr. decided to keep Pogge instead of Tuukka Rask, fans believed the organization was confident in his abilities. The Leafs goalie situation was in a trouble when Burke first took over, so after three seasons with the Marlies, Pogge got an opportunity at the end of the 2008/09 season to show what he could do at NHL level. He quickly showed he was not the goalie Toronto wanted by going 1-4-1 in seven games. He also had an eye sore 4.36GAA and .844SV%. Signing Gustavsson in July, Burke essentially made Pogge expendable when he was traded.
January 31st 2010 Trades Vesa Toskala and Jason Blake for J.S Giguere
One of the biggest trades made to date by Burke. Everyone was amazed that Burke could literally get rid of the slumping Jason Blake and underachieving Vesa Toskala. Blake and Toskala were both left over players from Fergusons era and there was no need to keep them around with how little they offered the club moving forward. By acquiring J.S Giguere, Burke took a $7 million dollar cap hit but felt it was fine to take considering he would be off the books in 2011. Giguere never did regain the form he showed when he led Anaheim to a Stanley Cup championship in 2007, however he’s now gone and will soon be forgotten with his career headed to Colorado.
March 3rd 2010 Trades Joey McDonald for 7th round pick in 2011
Burke would make it four goalies in less than one year to be part of both the Leafs and Ducks organizations when he sent Joey MacDonald out for a 2011 7th round pick. The funny part about this trade was that, at the time, the Ducks didn’t have an affiliate of their own and shared roster spots with the Marlies. Because of this, MacDonald would continue playing for the Marlies; never actually leaving Toronto until he signed with the Detroit Red Wings the following off-season.
June 26th 2010 Acquires Mike Brown for 5th round pick in 2010
Mike Brown is a player that fits the Burke mould. He plays hard and grinds out every shift he plays. That’s why, when he became available, Burke scooped him up for a 5th round pick in 2010. After one season in Toronto, Brown proved his worth by killing penalties and finishing every hit and he was rewarded with a three year contract extension.
February 9th 2011 Trades Francois Beauchemin for prospect Jake Gardiner and Joffrey Lupul
In a deal that affects the Leafs the most in present day time, Burke was able to send Beauchemin back to Anaheim as they were re-loading on D Men for a play-off push. In return, the Leafs received a soon-to-be NHLer in Jake Gardiner and a rejuvenated Joffrey Lupul. Both players could play a big part in the Leafs success. However as Lupul starts on the top line with the Leafs this season, Gardiner will take some extra time developing with the Marlies.
February 14th 2011 Acquires Aaron Voros for 7th round conditional pick 2011
When the Leafs decided to keep energy guy Jay Rosehill on the big club, the Marlies needed a new spark plug of their own and grabbed Aaron Voros. The 6’4” Vancouver native played 26 games with the Marlies recording three goals and 61 penalty minutes. He played a veteran role for the developing club, as he was 30 years old; seven above the team average. He is currently an unrestricted free agent.
June 24th 2011 Acquires 2011 1st round pick 22nd overall for picks 30 and 39th in 2011
The last of the trades with Anaheim thus far, Burke switched up draft picks with the Ducks on draft day. The trade allowed Toronto to move up to 22nd and grab American prospect Tyler Biggs. While Biggs has committed next season to the Miami RedHawks of the NCAA, he is sure to have his opportunity with the Leafs when the time is ready.
If anymore trades are made with Anaheim, most leaf fans would get excited for a Ryan Getzlaf or a Corey Perry as their returning player but realistically, the 11 transactions in three years is more coincidental than anything when you think of how many deals Burke has made as a Leafs GM.
He’s the same guy that claimed Martin Gerber off waivers and traded for Olaf Kolzig; on the same day. And it was all for cap purposes. That was March 4th 2009 and it’s fair to suspect that as long as Burkes in charge, any deal with any team can be done at anytime.
Follow on Twitter @KyleTheReporter