2011, Hockey, Sports, The Campaign to Fire Brian Burke

The Campaign to fire Brian Burke: Beauchemin Trade

Burke Trades Francois Beauchemin for Joffrey Lupul, Jake Gardiner and Anaheim’s 4th round pick in 2013

There is a lot to like here. For once, Burke has traded less assets for more. When rebuilding, you can’t have enough assets. Rebuilding is a gamble and the only way you can overcome the odds is by having a ton of tickets / bets. The Leafs are now younger, which is also a bonus. They were already super young, but now they’re even younger. They acquired a young D prospect for a veteran D. That in itself is music to my ears. And this is the first time that Burke has in any way attempted to fix a mistake – albeit a minor one since Beauchemin’s contract was rather tiny for a guy playing the second most minutes on a team and Beauchemin’s performance has arguably been less bad than his reputation here in Leafland suggests.

But there are concerns:

  • Lupul’s contract is larger and longer than Beauchemin’s. Lupul is always hurt: he has played two full seasons in 7 years in the league, and in only four has he played over 70 games. Lupul is yet another minus forward.
  • Mackenzie’s sum up of Gardiner is that he is a potential Top 4 D but has a long way to go. And worse, Burke drafted him. (Sorry if I can’t help but doubt our fearless leader’s assessments of defensemen to date…can I hear you say $6 mil this season for a #6 defenseman?)
  • And the conditions of the pick bug me to a degree.

So, the Leafs give up Beauchemin who, at least according to stats, was the team’s #2 D, for a third liner (former 2nd / 1st liner), a potential Top 4 D and a very conditional pick. I think I have to like it, tentatively, just because it says “rebuild” all over it. I’d rather have Burke making trades like this than trading picks or prospects to land a number one centre. (And that’s another issue with the trade as though Lupul has played centre he is very much a winger.)

Beauchemin has hardly been amazing in Toronto, but he has been the #2 D on a bad team. He has had some terrible games in his time but at least he’s been better than Komisarek. Getting a fairly highly touted prospect for him must be seen as a coup. Taking on Lupul’s contract must be seen as payment for that coup.

Though the real hope for the trade is that Gardiner turns into a player, we must also hope that Lupul helps the Leafs at forward both in the future and¬†especially¬†now. We need his help in the future because the pick is conditional on it. Pierre LeBrun claims the condition is that Lupul plays 40 games for the Leafs in 2012-13. When I first heard that I was outraged until I realized it didn’t mean we had to resign him, it only meant he has to be healthy then. It’s a reasonable enough condition. But, Lupul, who is already fairly untradeable because of his contract and his 13 points this year – yes, I understand that Burke traded for a guy I am claiming is fairly untradeable…it happens, the Ducks traded for Blake after all – is now more untradeable from a “did we get a good deal on that Beauchemin trade?” standpoint because, if we trade Lupul before he has a chance to get his 40 games in in two years time, then we lose the pick, all the more reason to keep him and his $4.25 million salary around till it expires. (Whether he amounts to much or not; Burke certainly shouldn’t waive him next year is all I’m really saying.)

So, the best result of this trade is that

  • Beauchemin doesn’t amount to much in Anaheim,
  • Lupul regains his former 20-goal game while staying healthy,
  • and Gardiner plays D for the Leafs in a couple years.

The worst that could happen is that

  • Beauchemin helps the Ducks make the playoffs this year, Lupul not only doesn’t score much or at all put fails to play enough in two years,
  • and Gardiner amounts to nothing.

Personally, given the position the Leafs are in right now, I say that’s a decent enough gamble. But we won’t really know whether this worked or not for some time. (Unless of course Lupul plays amazingly well and helps the Leafs make the playoffs this year…)

Also, apparently Mitchell was waived. If he had a little more value I would gripe about Burke again pretending that values don’t increase at the deadline. (Memo to Brian: values are not absolute, they are based in perception. Even the values of gold and oil – things which do not change in and of themselves – change. A human being’s perceived value is even more flexible since we do change. Stop denying this!)

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