Claus Andersen/Getty Images
Might Tomas Kaberle satisfy Brian Burke's need for a top-six forward???
The Toronto Maple Leafs have a long and successful history of developing defensemen into forwards.
Originally drafted first overall in the 1985 NHL Entry Draft as a defenseman, legendary Leafs’ captain Wendel Clark was developed into one of the best forwards in Maple Leaf history.
Known for his toughness, tenacity, fighting ability and leadership, Clark owned one of the best wrist shots known to man. His quick release and willingness to go to the net, helped him to score 330 c career goals, including the 1993-94 season which saw him score 46 goals in 64 games.
Clearly, Clark is an exceptional example of what can happen if you develop a player from a defenseman to a forward, while the likes of Wade Belak (another Leafs’ defenseman who was asked to play forward) is an example of just how often these transformations fail.
With the Leafs in desperate need of a top six forward and with a glut of talent on the backend, many Leafs’ fans are looking for management to ask veteran defenseman Tomas Kaberle to make the move to centre/forward.
At first glance the move would seem to be an act of stupidity. While not an elite defenseman (such as Chris Pronger, Duncan Keith, Nik Lidstrom, etc.), Kaberle is still a legitimate top two on just about every NHL roster. His ability to start the rush and make pinpoint passes to forwards on the power play make him a dangerous foe on the backend.
It is exactly those qualities that make Kaberle a decent candidate to make the switch. The only shortcomings Kaberle has is his penchant for always thinking pass-first, especially on the power play where Leaf fans can be heard yelling “shoot” at Kaberle on a nightly basis.
A good skater, with decent size (6’1”, 214 pounds), Kaberle has the size to compete down the middle or along the boards. His passing ability would make him an excellent fit alongside sniper Phil Kessel, while his defensive abilities would make him a great two-way forward.
Man, now that I have written this out, maybe Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke and the boys should move Kaberle to forward?