Burke has been adamant about not signing players to huge contracts and not overpaying free agents but with the salary cap at $70 million dollars is it time to spend more on free agents to improve the Toronto Maple Leafs?
“I didn’t like the price tag on some of these guys and I didn’t like the term,” Burke said in an interview with Prime Time Sports. “We (NHL General Managers) make more mistakes on July 1st then we make the whole rest of the year put together. The money that was handed out, and the term that was handed out didn’t make any sense to me at all and so we stayed on the sidelines other than Jay McClement.”
Burke continued, “We’ve got cap space, we have money to spend. It’s not a case of losing out it is a case of saying, I don’t think there’s value there.”
Burke has said the same story year after year as he misses out on big free agents up to the point where it makes you wonder if Burke is being too prudent. While a lot of contracts didn’t make sense the Leafs need more talent than they have if they want to make the playoffs for the first time since the lockout.
With over $12 million in cap space and the ability to bury roughly $8 million of cap room in the minors the Leafs are in a position where they have the ability to outbid other teams on a player they might see value in.
One player still available that the Leafs could get significant value in is unrestricted free agent Shane Doan. The 35 year old provides the Leafs with both a capable winger to round out their top six and veteran leadership that one of the youngest teams in the NHL desperately needs.
Burke’s main problem with acquiring free agents in the past hasn’t been money but term. “I won’t do ten year deals,” Burke said. “I think they put all the risk on the team. I think they totally disincentive the player. I think they’re insane.” With all the big ticket free agents signing very long term deals does that give the Leafs a chance at one?
With the lack of success the Leafs have had it makes marketing to big ticket free agents harder. In the 2013 offseason when free agency happens all over again the Leafs will have the chance to sign a player like Ryan Getzlaf to fill the positional hole of a number one center. The Leafs will also have to resign several players including Joffrey Lupul. Will Burke be forced to change his philosophy in order to improve his team next offseason?
“I expect all these issues will be addressed in the new collective bargaining agreement,” Burke said. The collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and NHLPA expires this August. Negotiations for the new collective bargaining agreement are getting underway. It remains to be seen how the new collective bargaining agreement will address the type of contracts that Burke is on the record as despising.
“The salary cap is a system that was designed to build in competitive balance and parody, I don’t want to be a part of cheating it,” Burke said. Is Burke’s idea of cheating the salary cap just behind the times?
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Burke on Prime Time Sports: http://pmd.fan590.com/audio_on_demand-2/Brian-Burke-on-Prime-Time-Sports-pts-20120703-Interview.mp3