Finding a way to unload Jason Blake's albatross contract probably won't net Brian Burke the NHL's executive of the year honours when all is said and done.
Maybe it should.
At first blush, it would have been easier to work out the square root of pi by hand. Or, figure how they get all that caramel inside the Caramilk bar. Or, logically explain how Burke's Maple Leafs actually lost to Andrew Raycroft on Saturday night.
But peddling the 36-year-old Blake and that inflated deal, one that will pay him $4 million US in each of the next two seasons? Talk about Mission Impossible.
Yet, somehow Brian Burke found a way to do it Sunday.
And after the Maple Leafs general manager had finished the heart transplant of his moribund roster by shipping six players out and bringing four new bodies in, he proclaimed he was not finished.
"We're open for business," he insisted.
Hear that, Alexei Ponikarovsky? You too, Lee Stempniak and Garnet Exelby? Better have your bags packed, just in case.
By completing two doozy deals Sunday, Burke has changed the face of the franchise to an extent we haven't seen in these parts since Cliff Fletcher fleeced then-Calgary Flames GM Doug Risebrough in the memorable 10-player trade that brought Doug Gilmour to Toronto in 1992.
In the process, it says here that Burke trumped Calgary Flames GM Darryl Sutter and Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray .
In respect to the Flames deal, maybe Calgary comes out ahead in the short-term by adding Matt Stajan, Nik Hagman, Ian White and Jamal Mayers. Certainly the offensively starved Flames could use the influx of goals.
But if you believe the winner of a trade is gauged by the team acquiring the best player, the Leafs can claim victory in this one.
Sure, Dion Phaneuf has his warts. Yes, he has underachieved this season. At the same time, his upside is far higher than anyone who was shipped out by the Leafs.
If Phaneuf gets his act together, he has Norris Trophy potential.
Can the same be said of incoming Flames defenceman Ian White, a promising kid who is just coming into his own?
Will Matt Stajan, a local Toronto boy with a good head on his shoulders, ever win a scoring title? Will Nik Hagman? Jamal Mayers?
Conclusion: Even if forward Fredrik Sjostrom and blue line prospect Keith Aulie, the two players accompanying Phaneuf to Toronto, don't work out, the Leafs still have the player capable of reaching the loftiest heights.
As for the trade that landed goalie J-S Giguere in Toronto, Burke comes out ahead simply by ridding himself of the contracts of Blake and goalie Vesa Toskala, who are now Ducks.
The thinking is that Giguere can serve as a mentor to young Swede Jonas Gustavsson. Giguere has other plans, however.
"I feel I can still be a No. 1," said Giguere, who carries a cap hit of $6 million US next season. "(Gustavsson) and I are going after the same thing. That doesn't mean we have to hate each other."
The Leafs hope they are now set in goal with Giguere and Gustavsson.
A blue line featuring Phaneuf, Tomas Kaberle, Francois Beauchemin, Mike Komisarek, Luke Schenn, Carl Gunnarsson, Jeff Finger and Exelby looks impressive on paper, too, although Exelby likely will be dealt. Komisarek, meanwhile, should learn in the next three or four days if he will be shut down for the season because of a shoulder injury.
Up front? That's a different story. While the team is admittedly wafer thin at forward, that is an area that will be addressed in the summer.
In the meantime, the door is open for the likes of Viktor Stalberg, Tyler Bozak, Christian Hanson and, next season, Nazem Kadri, to strut their stuff.
In Burke's 14 months here, fans have whined that the team needed to get younger. Sunday he got rid of four players 30-years-old or over while bringing in just one.
That, in itself, should be considered a victory.
THE NEW LEAFS
What the Leafs lineup potentially could look like. The team is expected to call up F Christian Hanson Monday morning.
- Nikolai Kulemin- Tyler Bozak-Phil Kessel
- Alexei Ponikarovsky-John Mitchell- Lee Stempniak
- Fredrik Sjostrom-Rickard Wallin- Christian Hanson
- Colton Orr-Wayne Primeau-Jay Rosehill
INJURED: Mikhail Grabovski C
- Tomas Kaberle Dion Phaneuf
- Francois Beauchemin
- Luke Schenn Garnet Exelby
SPARES: Jeff Finger
INJURED: Mike Komisarek D
J-S Giguere Jonas Gustavsson