BOSTON -- Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke told 98.5 The Sports Hub on Tuesday that he was currently in talks with Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli over a possible trade -- dispelling any rumors that the embattled Leafs general manager wouldn’t deal with Chiarelli after the Phil Kessel trade in September 2009 that netted Boston Tyler Seguin (via Toronto’s first-round pick in 2010), Jared Knight (Toronto’s second-round pick in 2010) and the Leafs’ first-round pick in 2011.
“There is no barrier to that,” Burke said about dealing with the Bruins. “There are no hard feelings, there’s no sense of, ‘Oh, we have to even the score somehow.’ If we can make a deal with the Bruins that makes sense for both teams, we’re going to do it.”
Bruins president Cam Neely went on the station later Tuesday and acknowledged that the Bruins were “close” to completing a trade but he would not give specifics.
Burke wouldn’t get into specifics either or comment on Tomas Kaberle, who has been linked to the Bruins in trade rumors and whom the Bruins almost acquired in a 2009 draft-day trade. According to sportsnet.ca, Kaberle has told the Leafs that he'd waive his no-trade clause only to go to Boston.
Burke did say, however, that the Toronto first-round pick now owned by Boston wasn’t in play on any trade discussions with the Bruins, and earlier in the day Burke stated that he would like roster players in any future deals.
“We put the third-round pick in play last night,” Burke said. “As soon as we had it, we put it in play to try to get a forward back. We’re not throwing in the towel here, and we’re not done yet, either.”
Burke has 10 draft picks stored away for June but he reiterated he’s not looking to add more. Instead, he said he wants roster players that can help his team now and next season.
“We’re not going with 10 if I have my way,” the Leafs GM said. “We’re going to try and do something with some of those picks. Most draft picks, you don’t see the player for three years, and if we can do something shorter term, we’re going to do it.”
So what does that mean for the Bruins, and possibly acquiring Kaberle? It could mean that Chiarelli will have to dangle a young roster player and/or veteran as trade bait. But that isn’t the thing Chiarelli must keep in mind as he proceeds toward the Feb. 28 trade deadline. As pointed out here last night, the time may be now for Chiarelli and other general managers to make a move, because the phone lines are buzzing after what Burke did over the past week -- sending defenseman Francois Beauchemin to Anaheim Feb. 9 for Joffrey Lupul, prospect Jake Gardiner and a conditional 2013 pick and then forward Kris Versteeg to the Flyers for 2011 first- and third-round picks.
“I know from talking to a couple of other GMs that our trade set off a big surge of phone activity last night,” Burke said. “There’s only so many quality players available at the deadline, and I know there was a frantic response to this trade, but we’ve been busy on the phones now for a while.”
Kaberle was unavailable to the media following his team’s morning skate at TD Garden on Tuesday, but Leafs defenseman Mike Komisarek said the puck-moving blueliner is taking the trade rumors in stride.
“He’s used to it, that’s for sure,” Komisarek said of his Czech teammate. “It’s hard for sure but it’s part of the game and we’re all dealing with it.”
Komisarek was asked if he thought Kaberle could help a team like the Bruins.
"I’ll put it this way, he is probably one of the best I’ve played with and will help any team if he gets traded away or signs somewhere in the offseason,” Komisarek said of the impending unrestricted free agent. “He’s so smart out there and his skill level is through the roof. It’s a pleasure to play with him and watch him every day on the ice.”