Pre-Draft Scuttlebutt

In the wake of the NHL 11-esque trade extravaganza that saw Philly jump from zero to eighth overall in tomorrow's draft while parlaying their franchise forwards Mike Richards and Jeff Carter into an impressive collection of high-end young stars-in-the-making (J. Voaracek, B. Schenn, W.Simmonds), Burke apparently offered Dallas GM Joe Nieuwendyk his second round pick (39th overall) for the rights to top centreman Brad Richards. Nieuwendyk agreed to the terms only to have the player squelch the negotiation by refusing to waive his NMC. Rumour is there are several teams still vying for his services, including PHI, NYR, NYI, BUF, possibly LAK (pending cap-relief), and possibly TBL. Other potential suitors could emerge, depending on trade activity prior to July 1.

Unconfirmed sources have Burke moving forward in an aggressive pursuit of Colorado centre Paul Stastny. Burke made overtures toward Mike Richards with Nazem Kadri and Nikolai Kulemin being the asking price, however Flyers GM Paul Holmgren pulled the trigger on ta deal that shipped Mike Richards to the western conference before Burke had opportunity to deliberate. While some may criticize Burke for his apparent lack of proaction, truth is Dean Lombardi trumped the offer and the deal was done without opportunity to put it to bed. Kadri and Kulemin for Carter would effectively handcuff the organization to an eleven-year commitment, and that just isn't Burke's style.

Suffice to say, if Burke does land a dominant centre, chances are Nazem Kadri will see his career in Toronto soon ending. If COL does agree to a trade, with their draft position this year (2nd, 11th), picks become less attractive, as role players and high-upside prospects take centre stage. Like many, I have mixed feelings about losing Kadri, as he certainly has the makeup to become an excellent NHL'er for many years, but the priority here must be the acquisition of a top 6/top 3 forward who is ready to make a major impact right away. Being that impact guy is tough on any young player, wherever they may be contracted. Doing it in Toronto is a much taller order, meaning Kadri could end up being either Ribeiro 'lite', or Jiri Tlusty: The Sequel, if the pressure consumes him. If the Leafs' core pieces were established, a kid like Kadri could grow organically, and emerge when the time is right as opposed to being forced into the 'hockey saviour' role on a team so woefully barren of top end talent.

The chatter is that Burke and the Leafs are making a splash early tomorrow, which certainly supports Burke's proclamation that all picks are in play at this time. Whether there is any substance to the scuttlebutt we shall soon find out...

Comments

George Prax's picture

The Leafs and Stastny are going to be the talk of the town tonight at the draft. It's going to be exciting, can't wait!