Florida Panthers and Toronto Maple Leafs: A Deal That Would Never Happen

xx yySenior Writer IMarch 4, 2009

We all know what happens in less than 24 hours.

At 3:00pm Eastern tomorrow afternoon, the NHL season has reached its stretch run—meaning no more trades.

Tonight, many fans are taking in their favorite players' last games with their respective clubs.

I'm wringing my hands at the idea of scrapping my Dominic Moore jersey, Columbus Blue Jackets fans are giddy at the idea of their team as buyers for the very first time, and Calgary fans are sitting quietly, wondering what their team will accomplish.

Everywhere you look there are rumors about who's going where, new press releases, and someone being placed on waivers. All the while others are happily re-upping to stay with the only team they've ever known.

Need proof? Just ask Derek Morris, Gary Roberts, and Niklas Backstrom (the Minnesota one) how their days have been going lately.

But while there are rumors ranging everywhere from the logical to the ludicrous, and there is no doubt names who aren't escaping the lips of general managers that will be by tomorrow morning, there are a few trades out there that aren't crazy.

Simple hockey deals that won't go done. Logical moves that fall by the wayside due to the heat of negotiation, an expanded sense of greed, and inflated wealth.

As I was sitting with a few friends at lunch today, we were languishing about how we'd have to be at school tomorrow instead of sitting with a remote in our hands, flipping between TSN, Sportsnet, or The Score's trade deadline shows.

From our talk about past trade deadlines we started dealing with the rumors of today: Where Chris Pronger is headed too, what the implications of Niklas Backstrom's contract extension will have on the weening hours of NHL GM's freedom, and who our beloved Leafs will be dealing?

But then a good friend and Leaf fan Ian Duggan brought a strangely logical trade proposal to my attention.

Tomas Kaberle for Jay Bouwmeester. Straight up.

No picks, no future considerations, and no prospects. Just a simple, straightforward, one-for-one deal.

To me, this made sense.

Now, by no means is this a rumor that's been picked up somewhere on the wire.  It's just the art of what I like to call 'Trade Deadline Dreaming'—a state of mind we all find ourselves in with each of our favorite teams at times like these. It happens at the Trade Deadline, during the Entry Draft, and even prior to free agency.

But while many of those are pipe dreams logistically, this one would have only taken two general managers to sit down and have a conversation.

As many know Tomas Kaberle is on the Leafs' books for a cap hit of $4.25 million over the two seasons following this year. Jay Bouwmeester's cap hit is a similar $4.85 million this season before you factor in the $1 million+ raise he's due this summer.

Since Florida GM Jacques Martin has been faced with the decision of whether to deal Bouwmeester to get something in return or risk losing him to free agency this offseason, he's stood by his mantra: We aren't trading Jay to get better later. We'll make a deal if it helps us get to the playoffs now.

While there wouldn't be any additional firepower acquired in this deal for the Panthers, they wouldn't be hindering their shot at the playoffs. Bouwmeester has provided the Panthers with more goals from the back end then Kaberle would (In 731 games Kaberle has 73 goals, while Bouwmeester has 51 in 452 games), but Kaberle's playmaking ability more than makes up for that.

Especially when you look at the fact that he'd be playing with his old running mate, Bryan McCabe.

Florida also comes out with the advantage that Kaberle is still under contract for a Bouwmeester-esque (this season's Bouwmeester) dollar figure for the next two years, and one of the newest 31-year olds out there is still in the prime of his career.

From the Toronto side, Brian Burke would get exactly what he wants: A fairly physical defenseman on the better side of thirty who isn't afraid to let a shot go from the point.

Burke would also have the option of locking up Bouwmeester for a good chunk of time, and pairing him up with Luke Schenn for the foreseeable future would give Toronto one of the most imposing one-two punches amongst league defenses.

After a strong does of reality hits though, there are a few reasons that this trade won't work.

First of all, Tomas Kaberle is injured.

No not that broken hand that kept him out for a month, but he left tonight's game against the New Jersey Devils with another injury. This may or may not impact Kaberle's value, we just don't know, and unless you hold one of those 29 magical GM's chairs in the NHL, I don't think we're finding out anytime soon unless he's traded.

Staying with Kaberle, the only team many see as positive is on his list, is the Boston Bruins. It's widely known that his list of ten teams are all Eastern Conference opponents, and after you remove the Leafs and likely the New York Islanders from that list limits the opportunities to thirteen, there's still the possibility (despite his association with Bryan McCabe) that Florida isn't on that list.

As far as Florida and Jay Bouwmeester go, Jacques Martin would certainly want more than just a single piece to help the Panthers gear up for a playoff run, especially when the Philadelphia Flyers are trying so hard to get Bouwmeester, and there's such an interest in the 25-year old.

And what about his contract status? One has to wonder if a general manager (specifically Brian Burke) would be willing to trade for Bouwmeester if he was just going to leave come July. For a team in such a dire situation like the Leafs, taking that kind of a chance isn't a luxury they can afford anymore.

But while a trade like this is just a dream (or at least would be until a few more pieces were probably thrown in), this is the kind of thing that the trade deadline encourages.

Sweet dreams tonight—because tomorrow may just be a nightmare.

Bryan Thiel is a Senior Writer and an NHL Community Leader for Bleacher Report. If you want to get in contact with Bryan you can do so through his profile, and you can also check out all of his previous work in his archives.


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