Can Burke, Leafs find needed size?

Updated: February 14, 2012, 10:47 AM ET
By Craig Custance

Brian Burke isn't a trade deadline GM. By now, you know that. Some of the worst mistakes general managers have made, he often says, have been done on deadline day. It's a theory growing in popularity among his colleagues.

"I went back and looked at all the trades done at the deadline, and I could only find three that significantly added to a team," another NHL GM said Monday. "When you take the emotion out of it and it's a year later, it's like, 'What the [heck] is all the hoopla about?'"

Even when the Toronto Maple Leafs were sellers last year, Burke completed his major deadline moves with weeks to spare. In 2010, Burke acquired Dion Phaneuf in late January. In 2009, he added Phil Kessel in a September deal. If possible, he avoids deals on deadline day. Or anything dangerously close.

This year? He might have no choice.

"I think people know I'm not a deadline guy, but we might have to do our stuff at the deadline because there's [expletive]-all happening now," Burke said.

And in that, he summed up the trade market frustrations all the buyers face right now. Burke might be more frustrated than most because the belief is that he would love to make a big addition to propel Toronto into the playoffs and make the Leafs a more serious candidate for success once they're there.

"That's [based on] reputation," Burke said. "At this point."