Leafs build by subtracting

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:18 AM ET

Brian Burke's reclamation of the moribund Maple Leafs organization has begun in earnest.

On the final day that National Hockey League teams could make trades this season, the Burke rolled up his sleeves and went to work. When all was said and done yesterday, the Leafs GM:

- Traded veteran winger Nik Antropov to the New York Rangers for a second-round and a conditional draft pick.

- Sent centre Dominic Moore to the Buffalo Sabres for a second-round pick.

- Claimed goaltender Martin Gerber off waivers from the Ottawa Senators.

- Picked up 26-year-old defenceman Erik Reitz off waivers from the Rangers.

- Traded Marlies defenceman Richard Petiot to the Tampa Bay Lightning for veteran goaltender Olaf Kolzig, defenceman Jamie Heward, AHL defenceman Andy Rogers and a fourth-round pick.

Heading into this year's draft, the Leafs have a first- round selection, two second-rounders and picks in the next five rounds.

"I'm not doing cartwheels, but I'm pleased with what was done," Burke said. "I'm never happy on my end of a trade. I always wonder: 'Could I have gotten more? Could I have done more?' But this is an opportunity for us to put some draft picks back into the hopper and I think that's important for the rebuilding process. From our perspective, it was a good day, long-term."

Burke said he shopped hard and would have done more if he could have.

"I think we turned over every stone (but), when your team hasn't had success, it's not like there's a huge line at the checkout counter asking for your players," he said.

The biggest deal of the day for the Leafs was trading the 29-year-old Antropov, who is in the final year of his contract and is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. The native of Kazakhstan has played his entire nine-year career with the Leafs, posting a career-high 56 points last season. He has 21 goals and 25 assists in 63 games this season.

Antropov was one of the players Burke singled out for criticism this season and the GM said he was fortunate to get the second-round pick.

"I don't think we had a prayer of getting a second-round pick for (Antropov) until about a month ago when I confronted him publically," he said. "To his credit, his play improved over that time."

Burke said it would be premature to speculate on whether they have any long-term plans for Gerber, who also becomes an unrestricted free agent July 1.

As for the 6-foot-1, 215-pound Reitz, who may not be able to play for the Leafs until this weekend because of an ankle injury, Burke said he is going to wait and see if the bruising blue-liner fits into the Leafs' future plans.

"He's a hard-nosed kid. I'm looking for sand, I'm looking for grit in our lineup ... and he's got that," Burke said of the former Barrie Colt, who has one goal, one assist and 65 penalty minutes this season.

Though there are three other players involved the Tampa trade, the Leafs basically made the deal for the fourth-round pick and the Lightning made the deal to dump Kolzig's salary. Kolzig is 38, injured and becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year, so he'll likely never suit up for the Leafs.

With Vesa Toskala being shut down for the season to undergo hip surgery, the Leafs' final 18 games likely will be divided in goal between Gerber, 34, and Curtis Joseph.

Burke said that the poor economy put a damper on the number and quality of trades this year around the league.

"I think everyone is scared to death of the 2010-11 season -- that (salary) cap will be based largely on this year's revenues," he said, adding that he will be "aggressive" in the off-season looking to make deals for more draft picks and prospects.

"General managers don't view snapshots as far as where an organization is going," he said.

"We're looking at the movie. We want to see the guy ride off at the end on a white horse, with the girl, and have a parade. But that's going to take some time."

STEVE.BUFFERY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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