While the highly anticipated trades, wheelings, and dealings that were expected at the NHL Entry Draft last Friday never materialized, there was a sense that a lot of teams ended up a lot closer to understanding just what they need to do come July 1st, the opening of the NHL's free agency transaction period.
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Brian Burke, so frustrated at the lack of movement at the prospect's party last Friday, stated that he'd be much busier come the opening of Free Agency. What that has done is serve as a salivatory scent for Leafs Nation, who are suggesting names from Hossa, the Sedin sisters, to Camalleri, as people who Burke should lock up once the doors open for business on Wednesday. However, those people expecting Burke to make big splashes will sadly be mistaken and let down if common sense prevails - and in most cases with Brian Burke, it does.
The fact of the matter is, that this team is still in a rebuilding phase. Burke is trying to tear the current roster apart for spare parts in the form of draft picks and youth - it's the main reason as to why he's been trying to dangle his biggest asset in Tomas Kaberle, on the open market all summer long. The biggest and best commodities for this organization right now, isn't a puck-moving all star with a great cap number, and nor is it a pair of Swedish brothers capable of lighting up the scoring charts. Rather, it's youth in the form of draft picks and young players.
Brian Burke has a long term deal here, and his method of business (namely the rebuild plan) has been accepted, at least for the tiem being, by the people in Toronto. Therefore, he's under absolutely NO time pressure to hurry this thing up - he's not going to be rushed into accelerating this thing by signing overpriced free agents. So while many poeple will be expecting a quick fix this Wednesday, the truth of the matter is another long and tough season with a young side, might be a more realistic image of this team.
The biggest sticking point to this theory is the Leafs' salary situation:
First of all, the Leafs are locked into just less than 20 million dollars for the start of the 2010/2011 seasons, meaning in 12 months time Brian Burke and co. will have far more flexibility and room to negotiate and maneuvre their roster as they see fit.
Furthermore, the start of the 2011/2012 season sees the Leafs locked into just THREE CONTRACTS - Hagman, Blake, and Finger. That boils down to meaning with patience, Burke can completely remold and reshape this roster as he sees fit without having to get his hands dirty in the trade/free agent frenzy, and at the same time affords himself the cap space to mold this team in anyway he likes.
Thus, there is no need for the current big UFA signings. Any moves that will be made, will be more of the plunger/scrapper type rolls that Burke adores so much (checking line forwards and bottom pair defensemen), as well as a resolution to the Kaberle issue. Other than that, no major UFAs need to be signed at this moment.
Doing any of that now merely serves to disrupt the foundation-building process that has been in effect here for close to 2 seasons.
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