PITTSBURGH — Jordan Staal is a Carolina Hurricane, which means Brian Burke was free to talk about how he could have been a Toronto Maple Leaf.
"It's not tampering to talk about a player that just moved," said Burke after the 2012 NHL Draft was completed in Pittsburgh on Saturday. "We were in on that trade. Obviously, the price they fetched was higher than this team was willing to pay."
The Pittsburgh Penguins traded Staal for center Brandon Sutter and defenseman Brian Dumoulin and Carolina's No. 8 pick in the draft, selecting defenseman Derrick Pouliot on Friday night.
"Good for both teams," said Burke.
There is, of course, another factor in the Toronto Maple Leafs not having the assets to land Jordan Staal.
"We didn't have a brother named Staal," said Burke of Hurricanes captain Eric Staal.
"That's part of the problem. It's the same thing when we got Scott Niedermayer in Anaheim. We had a brother named Robbie, and I'm sure that was a deciding factor for him."
The Leafs leave Pittsburgh having traded the rights to free-agent goalie Jonas Gustavsson to the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday for a conditional seventh round pick in 2013.
No Roberto Luongo headed to Toronto. No James van Riemsdyk joining the Leafs.
No Bobby Ryan, whose comments on Friday may hasten his exit from the Anaheim Ducks.
"I haven't seen those comments," said Burke. "Someone emailed me at the table and said he wanted out of Anaheim, but I haven't seen those quotes. He's a player under contract to another team so I couldn't comment on it anyway."
To the surprise of no one, Burke is once again preaching patience as the Leafs face a critical offseason in his tenure as general manager.
"What's the date today? Twenty-third of June? We're not starting for a while. So, I'd say it's a work in progress," said Burke, when asked about Leafs fans who may be disappointed with the team's lack of draft moves.
"We need to do some things. This is the starting point for the summer, not the ending point. But it's an important day. Let's see if we can improve our team at the Draft, and I think we've done that."
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