Why Non-Contending Teams May Have Interest In Tomas Kaberle

Drew WestCorrespondent IJuly 24, 2010

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 3:  Tomas Kaberle #15 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates with the puck in a game against the Boston Bruins on April 3, 2010 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario. The Bruins defeated the Leafs 2-1 in overtime. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Claus Andersen/Getty Images

Well, here we are on day 30 of Tomas Kaberle's trade window, and still no action. The same old teams from day one continue to be involved in Kaberle trade rumors: Buffalo, Boston, New Jersey, San Jose and Washington. Most would agree that these are cup-contending teams for the upcoming season.

When analyzing why these top teams would be interested in a talented puck-moving defenseman and power play quarterback, it becomes quite obvious that a player with such a skill-set could possibly provide the missing link to a team, increasing their odds of winning the Stanley Cup in 2011.

Now, turn your attention to the teams that didn't make the playoffs last season or the current "non-contending" teams of the National Hockey League.

Teams that come to mind include Columbus, Dallas, St. Louis and Anaheim. These teams are at least a few pieces away from building a Stanley Cup contender. One of these pieces being an all-star puck moving defenseman.

A question you may be asking yourself is "Why would a team like Columbus or St. Louis want Kaberle for one year, just to loose him to free agency in 2011?" Good question. I may have come up with an answer that makes sense.

When a team in a struggling hockey market such a Columbus or Dallas puts out a poor product on the ice year after year, ownership gets frustrated and impatient. In many cases, big trades or signings are influenced by ownership, leaving the general manager with little say in how his team is changed (think NJ/LA with Kovalchuk).

This may be the case with these teams, and bringing in a player such as Tomas Kaberle would increase they're chances of making the playoffs next season, hopefully putting more butts in the seats.

Now, an NHL franchise owner usually doesn't have the same mindset as a general manager. The typical owner wants to make big flashy moves to attract business, whereas the typical GM wants to build his team for long-term success.

My point is that an owner may be willing to throw a young, budding, lesser-known name player (i.e. Jakub Voracek, Nikita Filatov, Patrik Berglund, etc.) into a deal for Tomas Kaberle, in the hopes of making the playoffs sooner rather than later.

Another theory of why these teams may take a chance on Kaberle is his potential willingness to move the 2011 trade deadline. Currently Brian Burke can move Kaberle wherever he wants; to a contender, non-contender, eastern conference team, western conference team....anywhere. As much as Kaberle has stated that he wants to play for a contender in the East, I doubt this will factor much into Burke's final decision. 

So if Kaberle is moved to a team unlikely to make the playoffs such as the Columbus Blue Jackets, he will most likely be disappointed and count the days until free agency. 

Now fast forward to early March 2011, and let's assume that Columbus is in fact out of the playoff picture. If I am Tomas Kaberle about to face another season without the playoffs on a team that I know I don't want to resign with in July, I would waive my no-trade clause at the deadline to possibly win a Stanley Cup. Is it not a reasonable assumption to think he would do the same?

Getting a healthy return on Kaberle at the trade deadline could balance or even top what they give up to Toronto for him (obviously depending on what they get from a cup contending team). Just look at what NHL teams have given up in the past few years for playoff rentals at the trade deadline:

Joe Corvo = 2nd Round Pick, Oskar Osala (good prospect), Brian Pothier

Ryan Whitney  = Chris Kunitz, Eric Tangradi (top prospect)

Jordan Leopold = 2nd Round Pick, 2 Defensive Prospects

Brian Campbell = 1st Round Pick, Steve Bernier

Hal Gill  = 2nd Round Pick, 5th Round Pick

Considering the return teams received from players such as these, it's not far-fetched to assume Kaberle would be worth at least a first round pick and a good prospect from a cup-contending team at the deadline.

This would definitely lessen the blow of a one-year Kaberle experiment gone wrong. If Kaberle was to leave the Toronto Maple Leafs and have a great year with his new team (i.e. Brian McCabe, Nik Antropov, Lee Stempniak, Pavel Kubina...and the list goes on), the return could be even more.

I think the notion of having trade deadline insurance on a Tomas Kaberle deal would give the owner and general manager of a non-contending team reason enough to pull the trigger on a trade. Hopefully this is the case, so Brain Burke can get what he wants for Kaberle before his trade window closes.

Please feel free to give me your thoughts on this theory and what you think a team could get for him at the 2011 trade deadline.

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