If Brian Burke's latest trade is judged by pedigree alone, then the Toronto Maple Leafs general manager scored a big win by getting forward Joffrey Lupul, defenceman Jake Gardiner and a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2013 NHL entry draft from the Anaheim Ducks for defenceman Francois Beauchemin.
It also looks like Burke was trying to make another deal on Wednesday afternoon but that was no sure thing. When goaltender Jonas Gustavsson was yanked after the first period of a Toronto Marlies game on Wednesday afternoon tongues started wagging but it turned out he had an elevated heart rate. Given Gustavsson's heart troubles from last season (he had two surgical procedures to control his heart beat) officials from the Leafs' farm team elected to take him out of the game, although Gustavsson said he could have continued.
Both Lupul, 27, and Gardiner, 20, are younger than the 30-year-old Beauchemin and both were first-round picks in the entry draft. Lupul was taken seventh overall in 2002 by the Ducks while Gardiner went 17th overall in 2008 (when Burke was doing the picking as the Ducks' GM).
Gardiner looks to be the prize of the trade. He is in his third year at the University of Wisconsin, where he has 30 points in 30 games. The native of Deephaven, Minn., was also a member of the U.S. team at the world junior hockey championships.
Gardiner is said to be a great skater who fires a cannon from the point but the earliest Leaf fans will see him is next season unless he is given a game or two when the university season ends.
The most immediate benefit of the trade is Lupul, but there are a lot of questions around him. Since he has two years left on his contract at $4.25-million (all currency U.S.) per season and his salary cap hit is the same, he takes up a little more space than Beauchemin, who has one more year on his contract after this one with a cap hit of $3.8-million and a salary of $3.65-million.
The questions on Lupul concern whether or not he can get his career back on track after sitting out most of last season due to back surgery. There is also the trade issue. This is the fourth time Lupul was traded in his seven NHL seasons, which makes you wonder if some GMs think he will never live up to the potential of a seventh overall pick.
So far, aside from 50-point seasons in 2005-06 with the Ducks and 2008-09 with the Philadelphia Flyers, Lupul has not come close. But the Leafs are hoping the right winger will find his scoring touch in Toronto (he had 13 points in 26 games this season with the Ducks) to help their maddeningly inconsistent offence.
Finally, one trivia note about Lupul: Two of his trades were blockbusters that landed defenceman Chris Pronger. In July, 2006, he was part of the package Burke sent to the Edmonton Oilers for Pronger and in June, 2009 he was sent back to Anaheim by the Flyers as part of a deal for Pronger.