Setting the bar low


Photo: National Post

Brian Burke has been busy tempering expectations for the off-season ahead in recent interviews from his trip out East.

While no one in the know ever had the Leafs as major players in the Zach Parise or Ryan Suter sweepstakes, Burke was blunt about the Leafs‘ level of interest in the two big fish of unrestricted free agency this year. Willing to comment on the individuals in question because he’s “not interested” in either, Burke emphasized the need to get bigger over signing a “smaller forward” or (paraphrasing) a type of defenceman his team doesn’t need.

One would hope Burke’s own intel is telling him the Leafs don’t have a shot at either player and he’s reacting accordingly, because not tabling a competitive offer for at least one of these top free agents would seem to fall into the category of not doing his job. Of course, he may well still submit offers, but he clearly doesn’t anticipate landing one.

The other caution Burke has been issuing is on the goaltender front, suggesting time and again for a few weeks now that he’s fully prepared to enter the season with a tandem of James Reimer and Ben Scrivens if the price for outside help doesn’t make sense. According to Darren Dreger, trade talks between Burke and Gillis on the topic of Roberto Luongo have not been progressing ( no “engaged discussion” between the two sides).

Meanwhile, coinciding with the news from Darren Dreger that the Florida Panthers are now frontrunners for the services of Roberto Luongo, GM Dale Tallon waived a couple of contracts in Mike Santorelli and Matt Bradley. Obviously, we have no idea if these were small cap clearing moves in anticipation of a big acquisition of Luongo-magnitude or just a few housekeeping items in the normal course of hockey operations.

The intimation from Burke in recent interviews has been that he does not want to forfeit significant young assets to address a single positional need (goaltending) in order to make the playoffs next season. If the price doesn’t make sense, he’ll stick with the long-term blueprint and go with what he’s got. It would surprise me if the Panthers are willing to offer much value in return for Luongo, but if the recent reports are accurate, they might be willing to offer more value than Burke is.

The entire Luongo saga to this point has been smoke and mirrors, so take this all for what it’s worth. The Canucks locking up Cory Schneider yesterday, according to Nick Kypreos, does not mean talks with either the Leafs or Panthers are any further along but it could now expedite the process.



Crosby and Quick have been locked up long term ahead of the new CBA.

In case you missed them, interviews with Brian Burke and James Reimer from yesterday.

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