Due to the recent speculation that Brian Burke is interested in Ryane Clowe as the return piece in a potential Tomas Kaberle trade, I figured I would ask Toronto Maple Leafs fans if they would be happy with a swap involving these players.
The movement of Kaberle has been tied to the free agent signing of Ilya Kovalchuk, which looks to be coming to an end in the near future. Rumor has it that San Jose, New Jersey and Los Angeles are the teams most interested in acquiring the services of Mr. Kaberle. The losers of the Kovalchuk sweepstakes most likely will up the ante.
When trying to appraise the worth of Tomas Kaberle from the point of view of other General Managers in the NHL, we must take into account that Kaberle has only one year left on his contract. One year may be all another franchise would get from Kaberle if he dislikes the new city or doesn't think he can win with his new team.
Also, it is unrealistic to think that Kaberle would sign an extension with another team before playing a single game with them. So, there is a good chance he is considered a rental player by the other GM's in the NHL.
Taking these assumptions into consideration, would Toronto Maple Leafs fans be satisfied with Ryane Clowe as the return for Tomas Kaberle? Let's take a look at Clowe's career with the San Jose Sharks.
Clowe is a 27 year old power forward who is 6 foot 2 inches and weighs in at around 230 pounds. He has played five seasons in the NHL, although two of these seasons consisted of 15 and 18 games. His career NHL stats are currently:
Games Played: 244, Goals: 60, Assists: 93, Points: 153
Clowe also has 27 career points in 46 playoff games, which is pretty decent production from a guy who floats between the second and third lines of the Sharks.
Other than consistently producing around the 0.7 points per game mark, Clowe brings a game that includes physicality and toughness; a direction which the Leafs are taking with their roster reconstruction. Clowe has learned how to use his big body to his advantage. Subsequently, he has become a perennial 20 goal scorer who hits, fights and controls play around the net.
As you are all well aware, the Leafs are very weak at the left wing position. Although, that may depend on the development of newly acquired power forward Marcel Mueller. If Clowe can be added from the Tomas Kaberle trade, the Leafs left wing position could be full of power forwards in addition to Kulemin and Mueller. Whom would provide grit for all three top lines.
These players would make more room for the smaller and more talented players at centre and right wing (Kadri, Bozak, Versteeg, etc.), and allow them the best opportunity to reach their full potential.
But again the question remains, is Ryane Clowe enough in a straight up trade for Tomas Kaberle? Most Leafs fans agree that Kaberle is one of the top offensive defenseman in the league. Although with only one year left on his contract, GM's must be hesitant to give Brian Burke exactly what he wants in return for the talented Czech.
In my opinion, Clowe is a good player, but he alone would not be enough for Kaberle. There is always the chance that Kaberle does sign an extension before the next free agency period, especially since San Jose is close to winning a cup and he has said that he wants to go to a contender if traded.
I would like to see Clowe, along with a 3rd round pick in 2011, and a mid-tier prospect coming back for Kaberle. Many fans may still think this isn't enough, but I personally like Clowe and think he could help the Leafs while playing on any of the top 3 lines. He would also provide the much needed big body on the power play to stand in front of the net and clean up the garbage.
I would like to hear your opinion on a player like Clowe coming back for Kaberle. Are you looking for more skill, or do you agree with Brian Burke's hunt for the perfect power forward?