While everyone has been discussing the Leafs new captain or the new "old?" jerseys my thoughts keep returning to the situation with Kaberle. By now everyone has heard the Kaberle rumours and speculation. There have been countless articles discussing who is interested but a cover all article has yet to be created. This article gives you the breakdown of what has been discussed, tweeted, and written about over the past few weeks.
Basically there are two scenarios.
Option A: The Leafs trade Kaberle.
Option B: The Leafs resign Kaberle to an extension.
As reported by numerous sources there are many teams interested by Kaberle. And why not, he is one of the top 15 puck moving defensemen in the league. He also knows where he doesn’t want to go, which is anywhere in the western conference.
If the Brian Burke does choose to go the trade route he will have to ensure that it is an eastern conference team, and one that Kaberle can see himself playing for after next year.
Of the teams known to be interested only Buffalo, New Jersey, Tampa Bay and Florida are in the eastern conference and Buffalo’s interest is somewhat unconfirmed. I see Brian Burke trying to include Grabovski in a deal due to the potential lack of space at centre and his Top 6, Bottom 6 Philosophy.
Burke wants a various combination of the following things for Kaberle: A young NHL ready player, a young top 6 forward, prospects/draft picks.
Buffalo: From Buffalo the only players that they could afford to give up would be Paul Gaustad or Drew Stafford. I honestly don’t see burke going for either of them. And making another trade within the division, not likely.
New Jersey: The only possibility of a trade with New Jersey comes from the potential of Zajac or David Clarkson being involved. Potential trades:
Zajac for Kaberle plus prospect.
Zajac & Zubrus (unwanted cap hit for NJ) for Kaberle, Grabovski & Prospect
Clarkson, NJ 38th overall pick for Kaberle.
This really depends on how much the Devils are looking for a good puck-moving defenseman. The Clarkson deal seems the most probable as Clarkson is a very truculent player, currently restricted free agent who is unsigned and the Leafs would be picking up an earlier pick.
The only potential deal involving Tampa would have to include Ryan Malone. A Lecavalier deal just wouldn’t make any sense, I don’t think the Leafs are quite that desperate yet. The deal could look something like this:
Malone for Kaberle
Malone & 2nd round pick for Kaberle and Grabovski
Malone is getting older and is a large Cap hit (and Cash hit for a franchise that is trying to save money). Grabovski is relatively cheap and provides a decent 2nd line center which Tampa requires as they only have 5 forwards signed going into next year.
This is a very interesting scenario. Part of the allure for Kaberle and for Florida is the chance to be reunited Kaberle and McCabe on the powerplay. They would also be able to get rid of some underachieving players as well. Possible Scenarios:
Horton for Kaberle and Grabovski.
Weiss for Kaberle and Grabovski and/or Prospect.
Weiss/Horton for Kaberle
I see Horton to be more likely to be part of a deal as he has been prone to injury and has had problems with the coaching staff. He plays with truculence, belligerence, testosterone and... I can never get all four...anyway. Weiss is worth more to Florida than Horton and may be too hard to acquire, however a new GM means new definitions of worth.
Rating trades of most likely to least likely: Florida, New Jersey, Tampa Bay, Buffalo.
The only way Kaberle is getting resigned is if he would sign for a 4 year deal at around 4.5 million a year or a three year deal at 5 million a year. The chance of a deal being longer than 4 years and higher than 5 million would be slim.
Regardless I’m certain that draft day and the summer for the Leafs will be eventful as management and the coaching staff have made it clear they will not be standing pat.