Tomas Kaberle: Should He Stay or Should He Go?

Derek ScarlinoCorrespondent IJanuary 29, 2010

This is my second article of the day, and I admittedly recognize that I have made a pun on another song for my title.  For this I offer no apologies.

Tomas Kaberle is one of the hotter topics approaching the trade deadline, despite the no-trade clause given to him by former Toronto GM, John Ferguson Jr.

Why?  Well, let's dissect this predicament from a purely amateur perspective and try to figure this out.

The reasons, actually, are readily apparent.  Kaberle is one of the best puck-moving blueliners in the NHL. On a Leafs team that sacrificed two first-round picks to nail sniper Phil Kessel, Kaberle is GM Brian Burke's best bet at recovering some picks.

While still effective, he is aging on a Leafs team trying to capitalize on youth. Aside from picks, he's the only Leaf player that could garner high-end talent, in return, from a trade.

Then there's that pesky no-trade clause again, and Burke's insistence that he will honor what the veterans have earned, and will not ask Kaberle to waive it.  Added to this, there is Kabby's insistence of his own that he wants to stay in Toronto.  If this sounds painfully familiar to Leafs Nation, it should.  Also, the ears of Mats Sundin, Pavel Kubina, Darcy Tucker, and Bryan McCabe should at least be itching, if not ringing right now.

Memories of the Muskoka Five are a bitter pill to swallow for the franchise and the fans.  The Maple Leafs certainly could have loaded themselves with any combination of picks, prospects, and current players had they been willing to budge back in the winter of 2008.  Ah, it all seems so long ago—especially among Leafs fans who now place all the woes of the team on the lap of Brian Burke.

It's ironic how Burke's tenure with the Leafs bears striking similarities to Barack Obama's presidency.  You may not come into possession of a pretty deck, but you've got to play the cards anyway.  That's why the Leafs GM should ask Kaberle to waive his no-trade clause before Mar. 3.

There are some skilled players in the NHL right now who are at the end of their contracts, and have hit snags in the resign process.  If Burke plans on being "active" as the trade deadline approaches, he has to have a card to deal with Kaberle's name on it.

Lee Stempniak, Jamal Mayers, Garnet Exelby, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman, Jason Blake, and Vesa Toskala are other Leafs believed, or confirmed, to be on the trade block.  None will match the return that Kaberle will.  None will have as great an impact on another team as Kaberle would.

Certainly Toronto will miss their four-time All-Star, but should Kaberle really be counted in the Leafs' future?  Realistically, it could be April 2012 before the Maple Leafs make the postseason again, and if the Mayan calendar means anything, I certainly hope that they do!

The onus is on Brian Burke to erase as many of the mistakes from the past six or so years as possible, and get Toronto rolling on the right track.  Not approaching Kaberle to waive his no-trade clause is certainly not the way to go about this.  Burke has to right the ship before he can steer it.

His reason, which is noble, is that he respects the accomplishments, and the past dedication, of veteran players.  It certainly has merit.  He also wants to promote an image to pending free agents in the future that he's a player-oriented GM.  By dismissing Kaberle's, or any veteran's, contributions in the past, he feels that it may discourage players from signing there.

Good point, but it can also be taken in another context; the context of helping an aging skill player pursue further hockey success by dealing them to a contender, and trying to help he crop of guys still on the roster by aiming for the highest possible return on talent.

Surely, Kaberle will be missed.  However, he has to go; if not by Mar. 3, then hopefully before October 2010.