The ongoing contract negotiations taking place between Brian Burke and Larry Kelly, Dominic Moore’s agent, are more meaningful than face value. On the surface, trying to re-sign a player that is for all intents and purposes a third line center (while a very good one at that) isn’t going to make or break the franchise, unlike the contract situations currently unfolding with Jay Bouwmeester, Marian Gaborik and their respective general managers.
This does, however, constitute the first contract Burke’s negotiated as the general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs and will undoubtedly set the stage for any and all future negotiations. Burke will see this as the first statement moment of his regime, with his reputation as a shrewd, unyielding negotiator potentially riding on the outcome of the contract negotiations with Moore. This is only ballooned by the fact that the contract’s also being negotiated in the media, and should Burke be perceived as relenting/overpaying, he’ll be susceptible to vilification from the many pundits lining up to draw parallels to the overcommitments of the JFJ regime.
Then, of course, there’s the worrying prospect of the salary cap dropping markedly after the 2010-’11 season that’s leaving Burke very tentative about committing too much salary to his cap beyond next season. Moore’s recently mentioned the words hometown discount, and is very high on Ron Wilson’s system as he feels it’s compatible with his skill set, unlike that of the Rangers and the Wild. This feeling is definitely mutual, but Burke’s not about to damage his reputation or the long-term welfare of his club for what is ultimately a third line centerman. I’m a big fan of Moore… he’s a consummate pro, an entertaining player to watch and could provide a beneficial leadership presence throughout the re-building process. But you can totally understand Burke’s stance here, and if Moore thinks anything north of $2 million comprises a hometown discount, the two sides are in two totally different universes.
There’s some rumour that Brian Burke’s interested in recent waivee Aaron Voros of the New York Rangers, who Cliff Fletcher looked into over the summer. Voros’ $1 million contract that extends into the 2010/2011 season is a deterrent. I expect Burke will wait to see if Glen Sather attempts to pass Voros through re-entry waivers at some point down the road, reducing the cap hit to $500k if the Leafs were to make a claim.