For the last little while, when I have been reading newspapers such as the Toronto Star, sports columnists who have been giving their predictions about the Leafs' roster for next season tend to leave out Bryan McCabe, placing him on the 'reserve' list.
Personally, I feel that this is entirely unwarranted.
McCabe has consistently been an offensive force during his time with the Leafs, regardless of what anybody has to say on the situation.
Since his acquirement by the Leafs in October 2000, McCabe has had 3 seasons with over 50 points, and has had 4 seasons with at least 15 goals. And anybody can agree that for a defenceman, these are more than respectable numbers.
Indeed, the 2007-2008 NHL season was a struggle for McCabe, both offensively and defensively, but when one considers the play of the team overall, it is easy to see that this lack of production is not necessarily his fault.
With a team playing barely .500 hockey, it is nearly impossible to perform up to your true potential.
Just look at Jason Blake for example, Blake is an excellent offensive talent. However with a team that cannot produce offensively, it is hard to for an individual player to be successful.
Saying this, I do not agree with the contract that McCabe was given in 2006. I believe that a 5-year contract worth approximately $29 million is too much money for a player such as McCabe, regardless of what kind of season he had just come off of.
As good of a defenceman as McCabe is, he is no Chris Pronger or Nick Lidstrom. Furthermore, the fact that he was given a no-movement clause in his contract is absolutely ridiculous. I am not a fan of the the no-trade clause, and a no-movement clause makes even less sense.
Even though his contract is what I would consider to be an overpayment, the Leafs are left with only 3 options when it comes to Bryan McCabe. The first option, is to buy out his contract. However with such a large contract to begin with, it will still hurt the Leafs' cap space to a significant degree.
The second option is to find a suitable trade for the D-man. However with his no-movement clause, would McCabe ever choose to leave Toronto at all?
The third option, and the one I believe to be the most suitable for the situation, is to let McCabe play, and see if he can improve upon the lackluster season he had last year.
Regardless of the fact that last year was a bad year for him, McCabe is a good defenceman that can be a useful member of the Leafs next season. I firmly believe that given the opportunity, McCabe will return to the kind of defenceman he has been in years past.