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Two Picks and a Trade: Draft Day for Leafs Nation

Posted By Ben Fisher On Jun 24 2011 @ 11:51 pm In Toronto Maple Leafs | No Comments

The Kaberle Trade Keeps Giving

A trade that already looked good for Toronto grew that much sweeter on Friday, as the Leafs used their 2012 second rounder acquired from Boston in the Tomas Kaberle deal to lure John-Michael Liles over from Colorado.

Now, there’s no point in trying to provide even a semblance of analysis on a swap where the involved parties won’t even be fully revealed until next season, but the Leafs now have themselves another top-four defenceman whose $4.5 million cap hit comes fairly risk-free given his UFA status following this season. The 30-year old will immediately become the team’s top puck-moving rearguard and join a core unit that also includes Luke Schenn, Dion Phaneuf, Carl Gunnarsson, Keith Aulie and, hopefully not for long, Mike Komisarek.

So then why the celebrations for the trade, as it pertains to last season’s Kaberle deal?

The second round pick used to pry Liles away from the Avs represented the least of the three assets that came to Toronto in exchange for the disappointing Czech. The Leafs also received a 2011 first rounder (which indirectly got them RW Tyler Biggs, but more on him in a moment) and prospect Joe Colborne. That Liles now just becomes part of the return for Kaberle is impressive when you compare the 2010-11 season of the respective defencemen.

Kaberle (Toronto / Boston: 82 GP, 4-43-47
Liles (Colorado): 76 GP, 6-40-46

At the very least, comparisons between the two are a wash. But still weighing in the Leafs’ favour is the age difference (at 30, Liles is two and a half years younger than Kaberle), not to mention the presence of Biggs and Colborne in the long-term plans. The Bruins’ Stanley Cup win leaves them and GM Peter Chiarelli immune to any second-guessing, but you can bet Burke and co. would be ready to do that trade again in a heartbeat.

The New Kids

Tyler Biggs (No. 22): I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: give Burke credit for knowing what he likes. The drafting of Biggs with the No. 22 pick (Toronto sent the No. 39 pick to Anaheim in order to move up from No. 30) had the GM’s fingerprints all over it. Big (6’2″, 210), physical, hard-nosed, aggressive, Lucic-like and coming out of the USA Hockey’s U-18 program. Yep, that’s a Burke player. However, while he’s a great character guy with a leadership-oriented pedigree, he’ll have to develop some offensive finish to grow into much more than a fourth line grinder.

Stuart Percy (No. 25): Three picks later, Toronto scooped up St. Michael’s Majors D Percy, a bit of an off-the-board choice whose success or failure will speak volumes of Burke’s eye for young talent. The 18-year old, ranked just 53rd among North American skaters by the Central Scouting Bureau, boasts a fundamentally sound but hardly dazzling skill set that helped him to a standout performance at this year’s Memorial Cup. While few saw many qualities to his game that warranted a first round selection, Burke has long been a fan of the Oakville, ON native and could know something that other talent evaluators don’t. Or, you know, not.

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