I know, in the back of our minds, we're all pretty clear on the many reasons why the Leafs will not make a splash today. Ranging from Burke's apparent insistence on not using MLSE's money to win to Kovalchuk's probable reluctance to join last year's 29th place team to the fact that it would be awesome so by definition it cannot happen to the Leafs. One of the other reasons is the media coverage. The mittenstringers catch a lot of flak around the Barilkosphere, with good reason, but there is one that seems to have an in with Brian Burke.
Whether that's because he wants a book deal (my theory) or he's sick of having to work so hard to break news Damien Cox has definitely been one of Burke's most ardent defenders and has written a couple of insider pieces. The other isn't really a mittenstringer but he's related to Dave Nonis and that's Darren Dreger. If their hints are anything to go by, Brian Burke is going to have a low-key July 1 and will look to trades to make his impact as he did with the Versteeg move.
Hopefully I'm wrong but a couple of excerpts after the jump should let you judge for yourself.
Toronto will make calls today on most of the key ufa's. They're targeting a 3rd line forward and another D-man. Stockpiling for later deals
On the bright side, Burke is going to at least find out what Kovalchuk wants. The targets hopefully mean that Burke is looking to find players to play tough minutes at a low price. I would be okay with that. The defenceman rumour has been bubbling on the surface for a while and it usually surfaces around Dan Hamhuis.
Tomas Kaberle is yet to be dealt, and players who might be offered to the Leafs include Ryan Malone (Tampa) and Andy McDonald (St. Louis), according to the rumour mill. Burke loves to daydream there's a way he could pry Brayden Schenn away from the Kings, and depending on how the Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes unfold, Kaberle might help him do that.
I think that this is a good sign that Kaberle is actually going to get moved. Based on what's been reportedly offered I am glad that Burke's turned the offers down. Good to see Burke has a MLHS-level obsession with Brayden Schenn but it sucks to think he'll come as a result of Kovalchuk signing in LA.
With Kaberle set to be dealt, a defenceman is a priority and Dan Hamhuis is at the top of the list, although many are confused as to what Hamhuis is looking for after his rights were dealt to Philadelphia and then Pittsburgh in recent days, and he chose to sign with neither team.
As I mentioned, if Cox is talking about something, it's likely coming directly from Burke. If Burke signs Hamhuis then Finger and Kaberle have to be shipped out by whatever means necessary. That's the only way to justify that signing.
The Leafs missed out on Mike Cammalleri last summer and ended up trading for Phil Kessel instead. They hope to get a forward out of trading Kaberle, but they may be interested in some of the mid-range free agent wingers, particularly those with a bit of bite to their game. Raffi Torres and Colby Armstrong are two sandpaper-like players out there, and Armstrong might fit the Leafs' need. Ethan Moreau was a possibility until his rights were traded to Columbus, and there might be some interest in Calgary winger Eric Nystrom, who scored 11 goals and made $775,000 with the Flames last year.
Ethan Moreau? Jesus Christ. I've hear from another source that the most likely outcome today is some combination of Raffi Torres and Colby Armstrong getting contracts in Toronto. To say that it would be a disappointment is an understatement since no one's ever won a Cup icing eleven 3rd and 4th line forwards and Phil Kessel. Then again, there's a first time for everything I guess. The '67 Sound and I spent all day pointing out that the last thing the Leafs needed to do was overpay for role players and now it seems like that might be what Burke does.
Of course, that doesn't mean that he won't improve the team especially since signing a defenceman will likely mean more trades have to come. Of course, there is a greater cost to acquiring players through trades. So buckle up and follow the madness.