Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke is on record as stating that he would have to be “blown away” by an offer for veteran defenseman Tomas Kaberle if he was to consider moving his prized possession.
Ever since Kaberle’s no trade clause expired, numerous rumors have surfaced regarding Kaberle’s future, including Burke’s comments that suggested at least five NHL clubs had shown some interest in acquiring the Czech native.
Kaberle, 32, is thought to be a bargain at $4,250,000, especially when you consider what a good player he is on and off the ice and the offensive skill that he could bring to an NHL club.
Still, after months of speculation and weeks with which to trade Kaberle, there has been no movement.
So, what gives? Could it be that Burke has overvalued Kaberle?
While Burke may entertain an offer that includes draft picks, he is said to be seeking a top six forward for Kaberle.
Through 820 career regular season NHL games (all with the Leafs) Kaberle has registered a total of 80 goals and 402 assists, for a total of 482 points, good enough to be considered an All-Star level talent in today’s NHL.
While Kaberle’s overall numbers are good, his lack of physical presence and declining defensive play may have NHL teams second guessing his worth.
Combine that with the fact that Kaberle has just six career playoff goals and 28 points through 77 career playoff games and you can see why some NHL general managers may be approaching a Kaberle deal with caution.
Needless to say, Kaberle is a genuine talent, a player that, on most NHL rosters, would still be considered a top two defenseman.
Make no mistake about it; Kaberle is no Chris Pronger, Nik Lidstrom, Duncan Keith, Drew Doughty or even a Dan Boyle. Kaberle does not bring the skill-set that any of those top-tier NHL defensemen do, players that can have a much bigger impact on their teams’ success.
Kaberle posted a total of seven goals (three of which came on the power play) and 49 points through 82 games with the Leafs in 2009-10; good enough for 10th overall amongst NHL defensemen.
That said, there are plenty of defensemen who posted lesser offensive totals that outclass Kaberle at this juncture, including the likes of Shea Weber (43 points), Zdeno Chara (44 points), Brian Rafalski (42 points) and Alexander Edler (42 points), amongst others.
Kaberle posted a plus/minus rating of -16 last season, albeit on a very porous Toronto Maple Leafs team. His -16 rating was the 30th worst in the league and worst amongst Leaf defensemen (teammate Francois Beauchemin was the closest at -13).
The question that remains to be asked is: Are there any NHL teams out there that will part with a top-six forward for the likes of Kaberle?
As the calendar moves closer and closer to September, it appears as if NHL general managers have cooled their jets on Kaberle, opting instead to look to free agency and/or pass on Kaberle altogether.
When you consider Kaberle’s possible suitors numerous Stanley Cup contending teams come to mind, the Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals, Anaheim Ducks, Colorado Avalanche, Montreal Canadiens, Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes come to mind.
Of those teams, which one would part with a top-six forward? Of those teams, which one can afford to bring in Kaberle’s $4,250,000 contract?
It’s a tough sell and, given where most of those teams are in terms of salary commitments and restraints, a tough fit, even at Kaberle’s dollars.
Burke is a determined general manager, one that usually gets what he wants. Time will tell if he gets the desired return for Kaberle, but it’s not looking good right now.
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Until next time,