Lately speculation for the Leafs has included one name more than any other. That name, of course is Thomas Kaberle. Speculation has run rampant on whether to trade him or keep, who he could get and if he would drop his trade clause. And yesterday we got a small answer.
Andy Strickland, a St. Louis Blues correspondent, reported yesterday that people close to Kaberle have suggested he is in fact willing to drop his trade clause (http://www.hockeybuzz.com/blog/Andy-Strickland/Woe-CanadaKaberle-Out-of-Toronto/5/26470). Strickland happens to be a very reliable source when it comes to Internet bloggers. Rarely, if ever, has he reported on something that isn't true and proof of his reliability was displayed at last years deadline when TSN used him as a source for the Guerin trade. The reason he is so reliable is he almost exclusively uses players and player agents as sources. Now his sources are likely one of these three sources (or all of them). Carlo Colaiacovo and Alexander Steen (ex-Leafs and likely still friends of Kaberle) or Roman Polak (playing on the Czech Olympic Team with Kaberle and the more likely source when timing of Strickland's blurb is taken into account). With this apparent concession by Kaberle, now comes the choice of whether or not to trade him and for who.
I speculate that Burke will indeed trade him. I suspect Burke will try and trade him for a top 6 forward and not a top 3 forward like many suspect. First of all, a top 3 forward will be more difficult to get and while I don't doubt Brian Burke, a top 6 forward is more likely. Secondly, I suspect Burke will go after a top 6 forward with size and penalty skill experience (someone like Callahan or Backes). Getting a top 6 forward like this would address our biggest problems.
While many people seem to think that scoring is this teams biggest problem (now that the goaltending has been fixed, even for a limited time), our biggest problem happens to be the penalty kill. With the team in dead last on penalty killing by a whole 4.3 percent, penalty killing happens to be our biggest need. Getting a top 6 forward who is not only defensively responsible and can also score but also play the penalty kill would be enormous. Not only would we get another top 6 forward, but we would be vastly improving the penalty kill, effectively killing two birds with one stone. Not only would this be a smart way to go with any potential Kaberle trade but it would add some benefits that a trade involving a top 3 forward wouldn't.
Kaberle is worth a lor. One of the leagues premier offensive talents when talking about defenseman (if not the premier talent) he holds a lot of value. While it would be nice to keep him, salary on the defensive corps restricts that and he is useless to a rebuilding team. Logic suggests that the man with the most value gets traded and that is Kaberle. As he could likely get a guy like Ryan or even Carter, it would be smarter to get a top 6 forward that has penalty killing experience as mentioned above. Not only would we be getting a top 6 forward, but we could also get a first rounder or top prospect, which would further help the rebuild and would diminish the loss of the picks from the Kessel trade. This is not something that the Leafs could get by trading for a top 3 forward. This trade would not only suggest to the fans that the team is well on its way back to becoming respectable but it would actually make our team more balanced. We may not be as high scoring as some like but we would be a better defensive team and we could still score by committee, something that has worked for us before (the last season and this one).
The deadline is shaping up to be an interesting one, and here's hoping it works out nicely for the Leafs and Leaf fans alike.
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