Brian Burke wanted one of the top five picks in tonight's NHL draft. He talked incessantly about doing so in recent weeks, and it seemed a slam-dunk that it would happen.
And it didn't.
Why? Well, here's why:
--The Islanders, with the No. 1 overall pick, weren't interested in trading it to anyone.
"The Islanders never gave us a chance to swing," said Burke.
--The Lightning, with the No. 2 pick, were willing to give it up if the Leafs were offering defenceman Luke Schenn in return. Burke wasn't, and as it turned out, John Tavares, the apple of his eye, wouldn't have been there with the second overall pick anyway.
"We'd be without Luke Schenn and I'd look like an idiot," said Burke.
--The Avalanche, with the No. 3 selection, were under the leadership of greenhorn GM Greg Sherman, who had taken over only 23 days earlier. The Leafs were willing to take on difficult contracts like those owned by Ryan Smyth (three more years, $15.5 million) and Scott Hannan (two more years, $9 million) but Sherman was understandably not ready to wheel and deal.
--The Thrashers, with the No. 4 pick, would have surrendered it for Tomas Kaberle and the No. 7 pick, paving the way for the Leafs to draft Brayden Schenn or Evander Kane. But Burke did not want to use Kaberle to move up in the draft, so that negotiation went nowhere.
--The Kings, with the No. 5 pick, took Schenn and simply had no interest in what the Leafs were offering. If you look at the Leaf depth chart, it's not hard to figure out why.