Burke calls rumour 'absurd'

TERRY KOSHAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:45 AM ET

In a flash, Brian Burke squashed trade speculation involving the Maple Leafs and the Tampa Bay Lightning yesterday.

Toronto's general manager didn't pull any punches -- not that he ever does -- when asked about the Lightning's request for defenceman Luke Schenn and Tomas Kaberle and the Leafs' first-round pick, seventh overall, in the NHL entry draft in exchange for the second pick overall.

"The concept is absurd," Burke said in an e-mail. "I have said so to Luke, and am trying to reach Kabba to tell him the same."

Burke reiterated that he wants to move up in the draft to give himself a true shot at selecting goal-machine John Tavares.

Burke will have to come up with some crafty moves to improve the Leafs, but getting rid of Schenn, who had a smart rookie season, would be foolish. Young defencemen with plenty of potential don't grow on trees, and the Leafs aren't exactly producing them at an impressive rate.

NO GUARANTEES

Even if Burke was able to get his hands on the second pick from Tampa it would not guarantee that Tavares would be available, unless Burke had a deal in place with the New York Islanders, who have the first selection.

Swedish defenceman Victor Hedman and Brampton Battalion forward Matt Duchene would be fine options, but neither has garnered the hype that has followed Tavares around the OHL and on to the international stage at the world junior.

Another rumour that has been making the rounds -- that Burke would pick up the hefty contract of Lightning right winger Ryan Malone and send the seventh pick south if it meant he could get the second pick -- was scuttled.

"I have no comment," Burke said. "It certainly has not been discussed at our end."

Two sources in Tampa also played down that rumour.

"I would be shocked if that was the case," one source said.

Malone signed a seven-year, $31.5-million US contract with Tampa last summer and the cap hit on his salary will be $4.5 million for each of the next six seasons. Malone has scored 22 goals or more in four of his five NHL seasons, but tying up that much money in a fragile economic world would be dumb.


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