I actually Agree With Brian Burke on Something!

Toronto Maple Leafs v Atlanta Thrashers


It’s been interesting to see Brian Burke operate in Toronto as he tries to basically rebuild the team from scratch. Some of his strategies have struck me as ill-founded (copious amount of dollars spent on the blueline) while other have seemed downright ridiculous (truculence! Paying more than league minimum for pugilist Colton Orr…).

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That said, I would say what he’s doing with the Leafs goaltending is almost exactly the right way to go. Last summer, he signed highly regarded Jonas Gustavsson from the SEL. The move didn’t really work out (yet), but it was a good bet – it didn’t cost the Leafs a draft pick and he was already putting up good results in a strong league.

Moving Toskala for Giguere was also unimpeachable, I think, given the fact that he only has one more year left on his contract and was a vast improvement over the guy the Flames traded for at the deadline.

As Jonathan Willis notes, Burke has continued to fortify the Leafs organizational depth in net by inking Jussi Rynnas and, more recently, Ben Scrivens. Both guys have excellent results in their respective leagues and both are young enough to expect improvement.

Given how difficult it is to project future goaltender performance, This is precisely the fashion in which I’d go about building goaltender depth inside an organization: with low-risk, high reward signings of free agents and/or by trading for an established puck stopper at the NHL level should the need arise. The more I think about the issue, the more it occurs to me that organizational redundancy in the crease is a good thing and that acquiring such redundancy should be done via free agents and trades, not draft picks. The supply of goaltenders far out-weighs the demand at this level. As such, there’s no need to waste mid-to-high picks on goalies and there’s almost never any reason to not have a capable puckstopper or two at every level of the organization.

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My lone quibble with Burke would be the amount he’s invested in the goaltending for next season ($7M+). However, considering what he started with and the fact the imbalance will exist for only one season (during which the team isn’t going to compete for cup anyways) I think we can give him a pass. 

None of this is terribly relevant to the Flames…for now. The truth is, though, Kipper is entering his mid-thirties and the depth behind him is questionable, at best. The time for the Flames to start actively bolstering the orgs depth chart with free agents is probably sooner rather than later.

  • RCN

    I agree with pretty much everything you said… except the part about not liking paying more than league minimum for pugilist Colton Orr. He’s amongst the best fighters that can also play.