The reworking of the rebuild begins in Toronto.
Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke dealt defenceman Francois Beauchemin to the Anaheim Ducks earlier today for right winger Joffrey Lupul, prospect defenceman Jake Gardiner and a conditional draft pick in 2013 that will be a fourth- or sixth-round selection.
Burke signed Beauchemin, who played for him in Anaheim, to a three-year deal as a free agent in 2009. He played on the top pairing with captain Dion Phaneuf this season, leading the Leafs in minutes played, but had only 12 points after 54 games.
Beauchemin's salary cap hit of $3.8-million is on the books for both this season and next, while Lupul is due $4.25-million annually for two years beyond this season.
Lupul has battled back issues and an infection and missed significant time recently, playing only 49 games over the past two seasons. A former sixth-overall pick, he has had three 20-goal seasons in the past.
Burke discussed the deal in a 4:30 p.m. press conference at the Air Canada Centre this afternoon (audio).
"I'm not running this team on the basis that this team will or won't [make the playoffs]," Burke said when asked if the deal signified he had given up on this season. "I'm running it on the same blueprint as how do we keep adding assets that will lead to a championship?"
Beauchemin's former teammates with the Leafs and coach Ron Wilson commented on the trade this afternoon.
"We've been trying to look for goal scoring, both inside and out [of the organization], and an opportunity to pick up Joffrey Lupul presented itself," Wilson said. "We think that we're deep enough as an organization to give up a player like Beauch, who's played well for us and who was a leader on and off the ice.
"It's going to be hard to replace his minutes, but we think we've got another kind of key to the offensive puzzle. We need to score more goals and giving Lupul an opportunity here, he should be able to help us offensively."
Beauchemin had a limited no-trade clause that included a list of 12 teams he would accept a deal to and that list included the Ducks.
"I was kind of expecting something to happen with all the rumours that were out there lately," Beauchemin said. "I loved it here [in Toronto]. Great city to play, great group of guys, but last year was a tough year and this year we're still out of a playoff spot ... I loved my time here. I wish we would have been in a better position [in the standings]."
Lupul, meanwhile, said he is looking forward to "gettting an opportunity to play as a top-six forward" for the Leafs after falling down Anaheim's depth chart due to his injury issues.
"I think there's a lot I can bring to the team," he said. "I still feel 100 per cent I can take my game to the next level ... I know that my best hockey is still ahead of me."
He added that his role with the Ducks had diminished to the point that he felt a move may be coming, but that he never asked for a trade.
"I can't say that I'm completely shocked that it happened," Lupul said. "From a hockey standpoint, I'm definitely happy to be moving on ... I have lots to prove to myself and others. I want to step in and make an impact."
Wilson was aware a deal was close last night and had already been planning how to reconfigure his lineup with Lupul in it. He expects to use the former Duck on the right wing playing with Clarke MacArthur, Lupul's former junior linemate, and Tyler Bozak.
The Leafs are also expected to recall a defenceman from the minors in time for tomorrow's home game against the New Jersey Devils, as Toronto wants to carry seven blueliners.
Beauchemin and Lupul are receiving much of the attention in the wake of the deal given both will be in the lineup for their new teams soon, but Gardiner was one of the key parts of the deal for Toronto. The Ducks drafted the skilled defenceman out of the NCAA under Burke in the first round in 2008.
The conditional draft pick, meanwhile, will be a fourth-round pick provided Lupul spends 40-plus games on the Leafs roster in the final year of his deal. If he doesn't, then Toronto receives only a sixth-rounder.