Brian Burke's aggressiveness to make a deal at the NHL entry draft had the Toronto Maple Leafs front-and-centre in the hotel lobby gossip around town yesterday.
In the hours leading up to the 2009 draft, Burke confirmed that he had a noteworthy offer for veteran defenceman Tomas Kaberle. The Leafs also were rumoured to have made a pitch for Tampa Bay Lightning's Vincent Lecavalier and the San Jose Sharks dangled forward Ryane Clowe in front of Burke.
Burke denied the Lecavalier whispers as did a Lightning official, but the Leafs GM did explain his views on the Kaberle trade offer.
"It was not my intention of moving him here," Burke said. "We felt the best strategy was to wait and see where [unrestricted free agent defenceman]Jay Bouwmeester would end up and then get to work on the teams that were unsuccessful in that courtship."
Burke added that the offer for Kaberle from the undisclosed team involved a player and a draft pick. He didn't bite on the deal, but indicated that it was a starting point for trade talks not only with the team in question, but four other teams he informed about the initial trade offer to see if he could up the ante.
"My inclination is that it has to be an offer that blows our doors off," Burke said. "It's got our attention. The name that was thrown at us was big enough that we had to huddle."
There also was talk yesterday that Burke was shopping Pavel Kubina, too. Both Kubina and Kaberle have no-trade contracts, but they can be dealt during a summer-time window that opens when the draft commences tonight.
Burke's hope to trade up in the draft to the top two spots from his seventh overall slot has dwindled. Burke covets top prospect John Tavares. But the New York Islanders won't trade the first selection and the Lightning has asked for Toronto defenceman Luke Schenn in return for the second pick. Burke isn't willing to give up Schenn.
Burke stated he was more optimistic that he could pull off a deal for the fourth selection, held by the Atlanta Thrashers, or the Los Angeles Kings fifth pick. The Leafs also like Brandon Wheat Kings forward Brayden Schenn, the younger brother of Luke, and he will likely go fourth or fifth.
Thrashers GM Don Waddell admitted that Burke has badgered him all week long to make a deal. But Waddell said he likely will hold onto the pick, although there was belief that he would take a top-four defenceman as part of package in exchange for the fourth pick.
Burke was queried as to why he more optimistic about obtaining the fourth or fifth pick rather than one of the top-two choices.
"Blind hope," he said. "I stopped at the [nearby]Mary, Queen of the World [Cathedral]and lit a candle but it hasn't helped yet."