Meh...we overpaid but what's the point of dwelling on it? The Leafs can win the cup without those 2 players, they just have to build the best club in the league. It sucks giving a divisional rival quality pieces for the future but if we're going to do anything, you're going to have to build a quality club from your first line centre to your 6th D to your goalie. Boston isn't guaranteed anything and Ciarelli has to continue buidling around their young core [Seguin, Rask, Lucic, Marchand, Bergeron, etc] if they want to continue being a top tier team.
We can talk about the what if situations but they're mute b/c we don't know how things would've panned out without those trades. For all we know, Rask could've been given the reins here before he was ready and failed and maybe we don't sign the Monster or give Reimer a chance. Maybe Burke doesn't do the Phaneuf/Aulie trade b/c he's focusing on the future. The fact is, we have a better team w/ Burke in control than we have had in a long time. To be honest, I would've preferred a traditional rebuild through the draft but Burke has made this team much better and I can't deny that.
As for salary cap, I don't find it that much of a concern. The FA class usually has one, maybe 2 players in it worth going for, and they usually get more than they deserve and that contract has the potential of becoming the albatross on your team. Plus Kessel's deal is great value. We have a rocket richard threat on our team for 5.4/year, that's good mgmt IMO.
Not saying we're better off how things panned out but it's not as bad as some might make you believe.
"I'm just happy to say on behalf of all the hoodie-wearers everywhere that MLB is back in line with a subculture that I can really, truly identify with."
- Joe Maddon