Burke won't trade Schenn

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:00 AM ET

MONTREAL -- The requests are the same as they have been for weeks.

And so is the answer given by the Maple Leafs.

If the Leafs want to move up from their No. 7 spot to snap up coveted sniper John Tavares in tomorrow night's NHL entry draft at the Bell Centre, all they have to do is include young defenceman Luke Schenn as part of a package.

As of last night, the inquiries kept coming in concerning Schenn -- the Leafs' top pick, No. 5 overall, one year ago in Ottawa.

The Leafs response, as it has been through this entire process?

"No, thanks."

Sure, general manager Brian Burke loves the natural goal-scoring ability of Tavares, a trait he feels a player is born with, not taught.

At the same time, Burke has built his teams from the blue line out, most notably his 2007 championship Anaheim Duck squad that featured stud defencemen Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer and Francois Beauchemin.

As such, unless Burke is blown away by an offer (and that is unlikely to happen), you won't see the Leafs skate out for the start of training camp come September with Tavares on the roster and Schenn off it.

If both are there, all the better. That would be Burke's ideal scenario.

But as of yesterday afternoon, Burke's pursuit of Tavares, who is projected to be plucked either first by the New York Islanders or second by the Tampa Bay Lightning, was mired in quicksand.

"I can tell you right now, quite candidly, zero," Burke said when asked how much progress he was making in attempts to trade up in the Tavares sweepstakes. "But in hockey, this is still early. There is still plenty of time to go."

During the recent NHL playoffs, Burke denied reports of a potential deal with the Lightning, one that allegedly would net the Leafs the No. 2 pick as part of a package that would send Schenn to the Sunshine State. He even went so far as to phone Schenn at the time to tell the kid he was not going anywhere.

Told yesterday that teams are still asking the Leafs about his availability, Luke Schenn was flattered.

"It's kind of an honour teams are interested," he said. "But I hope to be in Toronto for a long time. That's where I want to be."

And that's where he wants his kid brother, Brayden, to be, as well.

It could happen. At this point, it's probably a more realistic scenario for the Leafs than acquiring Tavares, although Burke is not giving up on that.

If the Leafs cannot haggle a deal to put them in position for Tavares, they most definitely will set their sights on Brayden, who registered 88 points for the Brandon juniors this past season.

"He's such a complete player," said one scout, who compared the younger Schenn to Philadelphia Flyers captain Mike Richards.

In order for Burke to land Brayden Schenn, who is ranked fifth by the International Scouting Service, he likely will have to swing a deal with either the Atlanta Thrashers, who hold the No. 4 pick, or the Los Angeles Kings, who select fifth. Burke was scheduled to talk with Kings general manager Dean Lombardi last night.

Standing in the lobby of the hotel here last night, both Schenn brothers -- especially Luke -- left little doubt about what a thrill it would be to play together in Maple Leaf blue and white.

"I know there is a chance," Luke Schenn said. "I know (Brayden) falls somewhere in the range of where Toronto is picking. It would be so cool to see it happen."

"Obviously, I know where I'm projected to go and where Toronto is picking," said Brayden, adding that the brothers played organized hockey together for only one year "back in atom, something like that."

Of course, that did not stop Brayden from texting Luke after watching him on the tube with the Leafs last season.

"He'll send a message like: 'You've got to move your feet quicker,' " Luke chuckled.

Maybe next season, Brayden can deliver his messages personally.

On the Leafs bench.


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