Leafs, Bruins dealmakers love the action

Boston Bruins' Tim Thomas hands the Stanley Cup to Tomas Kaberle as Mark Recchi looks on after they...

Boston Bruins' Tim Thomas hands the Stanley Cup to Tomas Kaberle as Mark Recchi looks on after they defeated the Vancouver Canucks during Game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup hockey playoff in Vancouver, British Columbia, June 15, 2011. (REUTERS/Andy Clark)

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:49 PM ET

TORONTO - If Brian Burke still manages to pull off one of those eyebrow-raising draft day mega deals that sends shockwaves rippling through the hockey world, Peter Chiarelli will not be surprised in the least.

Truth be told, given Paul Holmgren’s stunning pair of swaps on Thursday that sent star players Mike Richards to the Kings and Jeff Carter to the Blue Jackets, it will be difficult for any NHL executive to steal the thunder of the Philadelphia Flyers GM in the coming days.

The Leafs were said to be in the mix on both, especially when it came to Richards, but reportedly were not willing to part with a package that included both Nazem Kadri and Nikolai Kulemin.

Whatever the case, Chiarelli is all too aware that Burke is not shy to pull the trigger on a bold transaction if he fancies the return.

Whether it be the Phil Kessel trade that continues to cause debate in Toronto, or the Tomas Kaberle swap that has helped stockpile the Maple Leafs cache of draft picks and prospects, the Burke-Chiarelli pipeline has certainly left a deep footprint on their rosters, both in the past and in the future.

The key to this trade partnership, in Chiarelli’s mind, is a simple one.

“When you have the opportunity to get something you really want, you go ahead and do it,” Chiarelli, the GM of the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins, told QMI Agency.

“Brian’s always been like that. I commend him for that “

On the surface, the skeptics out there are probably having a little chuckle over Chiarelli’s words.

Why wouldn’t Chiarelli like wheeling and dealing with Burke, the critics argue? After all, look at the windfall the Kessel deal landed the Bruins, thanks to the generosity of the Maple Leafs GM.

There was a 2010 first-round pick, the second overall selection that was used to grab Plymouth forward Tyler Seguin. While the Bruins are taking a slow and methodical blue print with Seguin’s development, it could be argued Boston might have not even reached the Stanley Cup final if not for Seguin’s back-to-back spectacular outings in the Eastern conference final versus Tampa Bay.

There was a 2010 second-round pick (32nd overall) used to select forward Jared Knight, who racked up 70 points in 68 games for the OHL’s London Knights in 2010-11.

And there was a first-round pick in 2011, one which will leave the Bruins on the clock at No. 9 overall during the annual entry draft on Friday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.

Kessel, it should be pointed out, has chalked up back-to-back 30-plus goal regular seasons since arriving in Toronto, a point often overlooked by those who continue to bash Burke for making that trade.

Of course if Burke is to still be ripped for giving up too much for Kessel, shouldn’t he be applauded for the return he netted in the Kaberle swap?

Two years ago during the ‘09 entry draft in Montreal, the respective GMs of the Leafs and Bruins were close to hammering out a package that included Kaberle heading to Beantown and Kessel to Hogtown. When the teams could not decide in which direction draft picks would be moved as part of the proposed deal, talks fizzled.

Chiarelli would finally get his man prior to the 2011 trade deadline, but not without paying a hefty price to Burke.

There was a 2011 first-round pick, one which dropped down to 30th overall when the Bruins won the Stanley Cup last week. Among other things, it gives Burke another card to play as he attempts to move up the draft board on Friday.

There was the acquisition of 2008 first-round pick Joe Colborne (16th overall), the towering forward who registered an assist in his NHL debut, his only appearance as a Leaf.

And there was a conditional 2012 second-round pick, one that automatically became Leaf property when the Bruins reached the 2011 final.

Did Chiarelli give up a lot for Kaberle? You bet, especially since there is no guarantee that Kaberle, a pending unrestricted free agent, will be back in Boston next season.

For Peter Chiarelli, none of that matters. If he had to do the Kaberle deal all over again, he would. No questions asked.

“We do not win the Stanley Cup without Tomas Kaberle,” Chiarelli said.

“We needed that type of player, a puck-moving defenceman. We knew it was a large price to pay. But we were going for it. If you really want something, sometimes you have to pay the price to get it.”

Early in the playoffs, Kaberle was made a scapegoat, especially for the Bruins’ inability to score a power play goal in the entire first round. By the time the final came around, he was barely getting double-digit minutes of ice time per game.

Through it all, the fact that he was Boston’s leading post-season scorer among defencemen was lost on many.

Not on Chiarelli though.

“We do not win the Stanley Cup without Thomas Kaberle,” Chiarelli repeated.

Given how much Chiarelli gave the Leafs for Kaberle, the move came at a heavy cost.

But when you are standing on the Rogers Arena ice surface hoisting the Stanley Cup like Chiarelli was last week, it was all worth it.

Mike.zeisberger@sunmedia.ca

Twitter.com/zeisberger


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