Bleeding Blue and White: Signing Blake Wheeler and Keeping Tomas Kaberle

Cale LoneyCorrespondent IJuly 27, 2010

TORONTO - FEBRUARY 5:  Tomas Kaberle #15 of the Toronto Maple Leafs heads back to the locker room after warming up to face the Florida Panthers during their NHL game at the Air Canada Centre February 5, 2008 in Toronto, Ontario.(Photo By Dave Sandford/Getty Images)
Dave Sandford/Getty Images

As you may already know, the Boston Bruins had a salary arbitration meeting with Blake Wheeler on Tuesday. Wheeler's agent said that the meeting was professional, essentially stating that it wasn't very contentious.

What is a matter of contention is how the Boston Bruins are going to respond to Wheeler's award.

According to, the Boston Bruins have just over $12,000 left for two to three players to fill out their roster. Recognizing that Marco Sturm is going to miss the first month and a half of the season due to ACL rehabilitation, the Bruins are still in deep cap trouble.

Sturm has a cap hit of $3.5 million. Assuming he is put on LTIR and misses the first two months of the season, Sturm will still take up $2.5 million.

Add the signing of Tyler Seguin, which will have a cap hit of about $3.75 million (see Taylor Hall), and the Bruins are in trouble.

With recent arbitration dealings such as Clarke MacArthur receiving $2.4 million and the signing of Mason Raymond for $2.5 million a year, it stands to reason that Wheeler will get anywhere from $2.4-2.7 million a year.

That is $2.7 million the Boston Bruins do not have. Enter Brian Burke.

After the Bruins are forced to walk away from Wheeler's arbitration deal, Brian Burke has the opportunity that many GMs don't have. He has the roster space, the cap space (waiving Finger), and the bait to bring in a top six forward like Wheeler.

The bait is playing alongside former college and Bruins line mate Phil Kessel. Once Wheeler is signed, the Leafs would have a top six forward who is only 23 with a 25 goal potential and a big-body power game.

In other Leafs news, looking at recent reports it's very clear that the biggest stone of the UFA season needs to fall before any Tomas Kaberle trade can occur. Luckily, the NHL and NHLPA are looking for an arbitrator, and hopefully, this will all be settled by the end of the week.

But at this point, do we really want to trade Kaberle?

I realize that the Leafs have eight defenceman and some younger guys waiting in the wings, but with Wheeler possibly signing with the Leafs, the need for a top six forward will be satisfied. Once Finger is waived, they can trade another defenceman.

Defenceman of Kaberle's ilk aren't exactly a dime a dozen. For the right price, the best deal may be the deal that rights a wrong from the past, and locks in a player who has always been loyal to the Blue and White.