After the massive Sunday of trading that Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke just engaged in, I’m glad I wrote a ‘Who-the-Leafs-ought-to-deal column’ last week and not this week.
Burke’s one-stop-swap-shop was back in business, if only for one day.
And it processed two big transactions that brought former Flames defenceman Dion Phaneuf and ex-Ducks goalie J.S. Giguere to Toronto, and sent Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman, Ian White and Jamal Mayers to Calgary, and Jason Blake and Vesa Toskala to Anaheim.
If that felt like long-anticipated fun for joy-starved Toronto fans, it should have; they have been awaiting a world-class housecleaning from Burke since he arrived from the Ducks organization about a year ago — and, clearly, he was pleased to finally deliver.
But more trades are coming.
And at the risk of repeating a theme I’ve developed this year, I believe I know the player Burke will have to deal.
My guess: Tomas Kaberle, the elite blue-liner — and last of the infamous Muskoka Five group of star Leafs — who has been the focus of trade rumours for the last couple years, will be the one on the swapping block.
Everybody knows Toronto is desperate to acquire talented forwards — and the only way that happens is if it trades some of the depth Burke’s latest moves have given the Leafs’ defence corps.
Safe to say he won’t be trading Phaneuf, or the two D-men (Francois Beauchemin and Mike Komisarek) he signed last summer.
That leaves Kaberle, and Kaberle alone, as the most valuable trade bait Burke has in his arsenal.
Burke previously shot down rumours of a Kaberle deal by saying if he did send the quiet Czech to another team, he’d have to search for another player to replace Kaberle’s puck-moving skills.
In Phaneuf, he now has just such a replacement.
Kaberle can cling to his no-trade clause all he likes — or until summer, when Toronto almost certainly will have a window in which the clause disappears — but he must know the end of his Leafs career is at hand.