Time to see Burke at work

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:57 AM ET

Let's be honest, those who are despondent over the Maple Leafs' sleepy draft day showing probably could use a long summer vacation. Or at least some medication.

Sure, there were no big trades. And there was no deal to move up for John Tavares or Victor Hedman or even Brayden Schenn.

Rest assured, though, that there was plenty of wheeling (if not dealing) by Leafs president and general manager Brian Burke, who either wasn't willing to overpay or couldn't find another GM to play in the same ball park.

But as desperate as long-suffering fans have become, anything short of walking on water gets stamped as failure here, especially from a guy not shy about talking a big game.

Cut through the hype and the reality is that Burke's buying power is compromised by the fact that the Leafs aren't exactly flush with assets, a big reason it was a relatively quiet trade-deadline day in March as well.

So it's on to Round 3 when the clock strikes noon tomorrow and "free-agent frenzy" as the TV types are shamelessly hyping the proceedings, begin.

Will Burke be able to celebrate Canada Day with a bang or will the expected fireworks be another dud?

There are no guarantees, especially with a growing group of greenhorn general managers leery of having their pocket picked by the veteran broker. But with room under the salary cap and a willingness to do business, expect Burke to be active.

Starting from the net out, the Leafs GM will be looking up and down his roster to make his first big splash in a market aching for one.

The Leafs goaltending situation had a minor tweak yesterday with reports that struggling Justin Pogge had been issued a qualifying offer. Don't read too much into that, however, as it just ensures Pogge won't be an unrestricted free agent tomorrow.

Of more pressing intrigue is what will happen with (the Monster) -- Swedish free-agent Jonas Gustavsson. While a report out of Sweden indicates the prized puck stopper has narrowed his options to Toronto and Dallas, it would be nice to know before the free-agent period begins.

That way, the Leafs can further explore the availability (and more importantly the price) for Anaheim Ducks backup Jean-Sebastien Giguere. The veteran, who obviously is well known to Burke, has a no-trade clause but has indicated Toronto is among the handful of teams he would consider.

On the blue line, Burke's deal to ship Tomas Kaberle to Boston for Phil Kessel fell through on the draft floor in Montreal, but that too is no tragedy. The auction now is open and the Leafs will listen to bids from around the league.

Back to free agents, up front Burke is willing to explore the availability of the Sedin twins, the Swedish pair he drafted a decade ago with Vancouver.

Daniel and Henrik might not make it to noon tomorrow, however, given that Canucks general manager Mike Gillis arrived in Sweden yesterday in a last-ditch attempt to get them signed.

In recent years, the Leafs have been active on July 1, to varying degrees of success with five spots on the current roster taken by players signed on free-agent day.

The most expensive of those was forward Jason Blake, a 2007 signee who went from overpaid bust in his first season to just overpaid in the most recent one. While his salary makes Blake untradeable, he was one of the more useful Leafs this past season, once coach Ron Wilson's message got through.

A year ago, then interim general manager Cliff Fletcher acquired defenceman Jeff Finger and forward Niklas Hagman, a pair of players who logged big ice time this past season and could be significant enough pieces moving forward.

Burke would like to ramp that up a little tomorrow, of course. But don't expect him to make a panic move if the price isn't right.


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