What Leafs GM had to say

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:44 PM ET

TORONTO - There have been a lot of comings and goings since Brian Burke last met the mass media, including his own hush-hush trip to Afghanistan. The Maple Leafs general manager had plenty to say about the state of the team on Wednesday at the MasterCard Centre, though he doesn’t expect to add any more players for the 2011-12 season. On not getting the most desired UFA, Brad Richards: “We made a very substantial offer. What we offered I don’t think is material. But we lost out, one (because) we didn’t offer as much money (as the New York Rangers, nine years at $60 million US), but more importantly, we didn’t structure the contract like other teams did. These deals are front loaded with small amounts at the back end that in my opinion, are designed to circumvent the salary cap. I never have and I’m not going to do that, though I wish him well.” On the deals the Leafs didn’t make during the busy opening day of free agency: “We didn’t think they made sense on the salary or the terms. I’m not being critical of the teams that signed them, but they didn’t make sense for us. As I’ve said before, (GMs) make more mistakes on July 1 than the rest of the year put together.” On long-term deals, such as the 10-year pact that Christian Ehrhoff received from the Buffalo Sabres: “I’m not going to name names, but I do not believe these players are going to serve the full term of the contracts. If there’s any understanding that the player is not going to serve the full term, they wouldn’t be accepted by the league. I’d be very anxious to hear the explanations when they don’t serve the term.” On putting an offer sheet to a restricted free agent, such as Steven Stamkos: “I don’t contemplate doing that at this time. It’s part of the CBA and if teams want to do that, fine. I’m not saying I wouldn’t do it (later).” On centre Matthew Lombardi’s projected return from concussion: “He thinks he’ll be ready for training camp. Whether he is or not, it’s still a deal (with defenceman Cody Franson) we’d still have done. We’re taking a risk, but this is a player who had 53 points two years ago. We’ve seen players come back from serious concussions and we think this one is going to.” On first rounders Tyler Biggs and Stuart Percy, who’ve made an impression at the MCC during this week’s prospects camp: “Biggs is a prototypical Brian Burke type-forward. He’s a big hard-nosed player. Percy is a smart, all-situation defenceman, who is just going to get better.” On James Reimer living up to his new contract: “A lot of goalies come in and have brief, spectacular bursts in the NHL and don’t sustain that. Jim Carey is one and Steve Penny, years ago with Montreal. I said to James, you should Google those two and make sure you’re not one of them. But he has the (right) temperament.” On utilizing new free agent centre Tim Connolly: “We needed a centre and he has played point on the power play. Whether he can do that here, we’ll see. But it’s an upgrade for us.” On new defenceman Franson: “I loved him in junior. With that kind of (6-foot-5) size and mobility, he gives us a second shooting option on the power play, a guy who can really hammer the puck (besides) Dion Phaneuf. We used 10 defencemen when we won the Cup in Anaheim, it’s a wear-and-tear position.” On negotiations with RFA Luke Schenn and the other UFAs: “Talks haven’t got underway with Luke, There is no rush. We’re in discussions with Darryl Boyce, Joey Crabb and Matt Lashoff.” On Jay Rosehill and Colton Orr as next season’s enforcers: “They’re different players. Jay is a middleweight, who gets around and causes aggravation, especially when on the ice with Mike Brown. Colton is a battleship. He could have come back (from a concussion) last year. But I will never rush a player back who had that kind of injury.” On the Jeff Finger and his expensive $3.5 million contract sitting another year with the AHL Marlies: “We haven’t written him off. People think we were the only team that tried to sign him (in 2008), but we weren’t. With the depth we have, he’s probably going to have a tough time, but if he can come in and take a job, that’s great.” On Nazem Kadri playing wing again next year: “Probably. What we ask our centres to do at both ends of the rink are not his strong suits, but he can step up and make a play. Guys like Paul Kariya played wing his whole career, but once he crossed the blueline, he was a centre.” lance.hornby@sunmedia.ca

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