Uneventful Offseason for Burke, Leafs

Maybe Brian Burke has been shut up by his team’s recent success.

The usually loud and flashy Burke has been very quiet this off-season. Not just in the trades/signings realm, but also in his profile. He’s maintained a low one, which is unusual since he always seems to be in the spotlight of all Toronto media.

After the dismal collapse the Leafs went through at the end of last year, Burke was expected to make changes and (hopefully) improvements. Yet the 2012-13 roster looks a carbon copy of last year’s corpse, the only somewhat significant difference is the addition of James van Riemsdyk, possibly at centre.

In terms of trades, that’s been all that Burke’s pulled off since the Trade Deadline on Febraury 27th, when Carter Ashton became a Marlie and the dealing of Jonas Gustavsson on the same day van Riemsdyk was traded for. Otherwise, that’s it.

Vancouver’s’ Luongo and Schneider were both rumoured to be possibilites or Kings youngster Jonathan Bernier. Others who didn’t pan out include touted defenseman Justin Schultz, Jeff Carter, Ryan Getzlaf and who knows what else Burke was thinking of but never pulled the trigger on. Remember, this is the same guy who turned down first round draft picks for Clarke MacArthur and Mikhail Grabovski last February, a sure sign that the Leafs are not in full-fledged rebuilding mode- although it’s hard to wonder why not.

What’s to say that last year’s result of bottom five won’t repeat? It could and may very well happen again since the team still looks beleaguered in every area, still missing a quality goaltender and a number one center. Burke will tell you that van Riemsdyk is can fit the team’s first line center need, although that’s a tad of a stretch.

Another major concern is the character of this brittle team. All but Mike Komisarek and Grabovski rose to the occasion during last year’s collapse, Phil Kessel was soft as usual and Dion Phaneuf showed no leadership amidst a colossal landslide even with a “C” on his chest. Burke added no tough guys or character players to a team clearly lacking a firm direction on the ice.

The only real good that’s come out of this off-season is the addition of Morgan Rielly. Again, that’s a long-term player, but character guys like him are rare to find.

Otherwise, it’s been an off-season about the re-signing, whether it be locking up Kulemin for two years or signing Korbinian Holzer to an NHL deal. Put simply, it’s been way too quiet given his team’s recent lack of success.

It’s odd, and simply doesn’t make sense. Either it’s the calm before the storm and something big is in the works or there’s nothing else coming.

Whatever the case, the moves he’s made thus far can hardly be described as “earth shattering” and for a team that won just 43 percent of their games, anything less than ‘earth-shattering ‘ will make it awfully hard to end an eight-year playoff drought.


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