This article is by Eric Warren. Eric is also a frequent contributer to Bleacher Report.
Just days after dealing long-time Leaf defenseman Tomas Kaberle to the Boston Bruins for their first-round pick in this year's draft, a prospect and a conditional second rounder, Brian Burke has stated publicly that he is looking for a defenseman.
The absence of Kaberle created a hole on the blue line, and a hole not easily filled at that. The common opinion, however, was that rookie defenseman Carl Gunnarsson, who had shown the potential to be a Kaberle-type defenseman not so long ago, would be able to fill that void. Perhaps not as soon as this season but possibly next season.
In his recent dealings, Burke has picked up two first-round picks and two highly touted prospects, one of which is a top-tier defensive prospect.
Before the acquisition of Jake Gardiner, the Toronto Maple Leafs already had a relatively deep stable of defensive prospects, including Jesse Blacker, Simon Gysbers, Juraj Mikus and Danny Richmond. They also have veteran defenseman Jeff Finger and youngster Matt Lashoff, who has already seen limited ice time in the NHL.
With the Leafs only seven points out of a playoff spot and suddenly in the hunt, Brian Burke may be tempted to sell the farm for a push into the postseason.
Most people would argue that Jeff Finger was sent down for a reason and they'd be right to a degree. If all Burke is looking for, however, is to put a little experience on the back end for the rest of the season, Jeff Finger could fit the bill.
Agree or disagree, Brian Burke has done well with this club given what he had to work with when he arrived.
The Toronto Maple Leafs could make it to the postseason as is. With Colby Armstrong and Mike Brown set to return against the Islanders, the Leafs should get that shot in the arm that they were missing against Ottawa over the weekend.
The end of this evening's action could find the Toronto Maple Leafs only five points out and make the temptation to try another move almost unbearable for Burke given that it's been awhile since his club has made the postseason, but it won't make any sense if he loses what got him this far to begin with.