He had to trade pending UFAs Moore and Antropov, and he managed to get a couple of second rounders in return (the conditional pick in the Antropov deal is a fourth rounder that apparently only kicks in if the Rangers go to the semi-finals). And he added an additional pick from the Lightning.
Other than that, nothing. And in this case, nothing just isn't enough.
There were any number of rabbits Burke could have pulled out his hat today, and he came up empty:
- Find somebody will to pay his ransom for Tomas Kaberle? Nope, although maybe you give a pass there due to the hand injury.
- Trade a young-ish veteran like Ian White or Alex Ponikarovsky? Nope.
- Find a GM in panic mode to take Jason Blake's contract off his hands? Nope.
- Find a new home for veteran grinder Jamal Mayers? Nope.
- Throw us all a curveball by doing something unexpected? Don't be silly.
In the end, all Burke managed to do with the current roster was move the team's only two UFAs. And he couldn't even get as much as he'd hoped for those two.
Not one single prospect to get excited about. No first round picks. No deals that will have any impact at all on next year's cap situation.
In fairness, the trading landscape in the NHL these days is a tough one. The cap made things hard, and the coming financial meltdown makes it worse. We were reminded of this a dozen times today. We get it.
But at the same time, just because the class is difficult doesn't mean the students get an A for showing up. If the job was going to be easy, Burke wouldn't be making the big bucks to do it.
Are the Leafs in significantly better long-term shape now than they were yesterday? Are they even significantly different than they were the day Burke took over? If so, I'm not seeing it.
And yes, over the next few days anyone who expected anything more than this will be lectured about having unrealistic expectations. The experts will shake their heads over dumb Leaf fans who actually thought that a rebuilding team would use the deadline to, you know, rebuild.
We'll be reminded that Burke isn't really a "deadline guy". Which is fine, when you're a buyer. But sellers needs to be deadline guys because that's when prices are highest. If Burke couldn't find a buyer today for more of his assets, then either he's not much of a salesman or the assets are in worse shape than we thought.
Either way, let's give Burke a C- on the day.
So what now? Well, first we ride out the last few weeks of the season. Then we sit through those games that come after the season -- can't remember what they're called, I think it starts with "p" but it's been a while.
And then on to the draft, which is the next day to get excited about on the Leaf calendar. The Leafs will have a chance to draft an elite prospect, and should be in a good position to move up if they choose. There will also be the window to move Kaberle or Kubina to any team in the league, and make any other deals that will continue the rebuild.
Or they may not do much at all. After all, maybe our expectations are too high.