3 Best Moves By Brian Burke as Toronto Maple Leafs G.M.

MONTREAL - JUNE 26: Nazem Kadri shakes hands with Toronto Maple Leafs President & GM Brian Burke as Special Advisor Cliff Fletcher looks on during the first round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft at the Bell Centre on June 26, 2009 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
MONTREAL - JUNE 26: Nazem Kadri shakes hands with Toronto Maple Leafs President & GM Brian Burke as Special Advisor Cliff Fletcher looks on during the first round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft at the Bell Centre on June 26, 2009 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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MONTREAL – JUNE 26: Nazem Kadri shakes hands with Toronto Maple Leafs President & GM Brian Burke. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
MONTREAL – JUNE 26: Nazem Kadri shakes hands with Toronto Maple Leafs President & GM Brian Burke. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

#1. Drafting Nazem Kadri and Morgan Rielly

You can call it luck, or you can praise it, but the ability to draft Kadri and Rielly are two key pieces to Burke’s legacy as Toronto Maple Leafs G.M.

Since Burke was hired on November 29, 2008 and fired on January 9, 2013, he was apart of the 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 NHL Entry Drafts.

Although his drafting and scouting ability was abysmal in 2010 and 2011, he hit big in 2009 and 2012.

It’s never good to be drafting seventh in your first draft as G.M., then fifth in your last draft as G.M., but that’s how it went for Burke.

As we’ve talked about before, he did a terrible job as the G.M., but at least he got it right with his first draft in 2009 by selecting Kadri.

When you think of the Toronto Maple Leafs of the 2010 decade, Kadri’s name always comes up. He played at least one game in every season of the decade and was a fan-favourite. He made a few dumb mistakes during the playoffs, but his ability to redefine his game as a two-way centre, while scoring 30-plus goals a season made him an invaluable player.

As everyone knows, the Leafs recently traded him to try to acquire more defense with Tyson Barrie, but that’s backfired. It’s unfortunate the team wasn’t able to figure out a way to keep him because he’s the type of player you love to have your team but hate to play against.

The Morgan Rielly draft pick was probably Burke’s best pick ever as the G.M., and fans still have to thank him for that selection. It wasn’t a no-brainer selection at the time, as Rielly had just been injured for most of his draft year, so teams were skeptical, but Burke never was.

Burke even told Sportsnet that he would’ve taken Rielly first overall if he had the pick, although he was fortunate to see him fall to number-five where the Leafs selected him:

"“To me, his skating was so advanced – and you could see it was going to get better with some power – that he could skate the puck out of trouble at all times, his decision-making was good. His maturity as a kid was good; this is a guy who when he was hurt he’d go meet the team when they’d come back after a road trip at 3 or 4 in the morning, he’d go and meet the bus on crutches.”"

Rielly’s been the best defenseman the Leafs have had in a decade and is a staple on the team’s blue-line. Depending on how he long he stays apart of the Toronto Maple Leafs, he could go down as the team’s best defenseman ever.

Next. 3 Worst Moves by Brian Burke as Leafs G.M.. dark

Although Burke’s overall tenure was poor, he fortunately blessed Leafs fans with a few good moves during his short stay in Toronto.