My name is Jason Reynolds and I will be writing for BleacherReport.com on all things Toronto Maple Leafs. You’ll get all the news, notes and rumors on a weekly basis along with insider information from reliable sources.
My first article will focus on a situation that has been dragging on for months, the Tomas Kaberle situation. I am a huge Brian Burke supporter but I feel he definitely dropped the ball on this one, and here’s five reasons why I believe Kaberle will be gone by the trade deadline.
1. The first reason is that the Maple Leafs don’t want another Sundin situation to take place once Tomas Kaberle’s contract expires (which is at the end of this season). In other words, he walks, which means the Leafs will end up losing him and get nothing in return. He refused to wave his no-trade clause and at year’s end, he bailed out-of-town and the Leafs took the lose. The same situation is set to take place with Kaberle if he finishes this season in Toronto. I believe he will turn down any offers Burke presents to him in hopes of resigning him and he will leave Toronto. Leafs Nation will once again be shaking their heads in what might have been had Burke traded him while he had the window to do so this summer.
2. We have all read the comments of Tomas’ father, Frantisek Kaberle Sr., who stated. “I cannot imagine how he will get along with coach Ron Wilson, who relies primarily on stress and aggression. I can’t see Tomas entering a new contract with Toronto. Not if Ron Wilson continues to be employed there.” These are very harsh words that, if true, are devastating to the blue and white. If these comments are true then the Leafs and Burke have more to worry about in that if Kaberle does not get along with coach Wilson this could cause problems all throughout the locker room. Let’s look at this closer, if this is true and Kaberle is frustrated and upset with the way Wilson coaches, then it could be a long year for Leafs Nation. If Kaberle doesn’t like the way Wilson coaches and at the same time this method hasn’t brought winning to the club then Kaberle might have a point. If he’s not playing to his full potential because of Wilson behind the bench, it could be a long season as a lot of the younger guys look up to Tomas and this could cause major problems throughout the organization.
3. Let’s not forget the log jam Toronto has on defense already this season. With eight NHL ready D-Men already in the fold and a few up and coming prospects that could make the jump to the NHL anytime now. There is only so many minutes to hand out and everyone wants a slice of the pie. When Burke made the move this summer and signed UFA Brett Lebda, I thought for sure this spelled the end for Kaberle. Now however, this creates a log jam at the position. To start the year the defense will probably look something like this:
Kaberle – Phaneuf
Beauchemin – Gunnarsson or Lebda
That leaves Finger and either Lebda or Gunnarsson out and sent down to the Marlies. Along with that you have the likes of Jesse Blacker, Keith Aulie, and Juraj Mikus all looking to get their shot at the NHL next season. There is an overload of talent at this position which is not a bad thing but you have to ask yourself. If Kaberle had been traded before his no-trade clause kicked back in our forward group would look a little better and we would not have to waste another talent and salary in the minors.
4. Here’s a question for everyone, If you had been put through what Tomas has been put through all summer would you want to stay in Toronto and play for this team? You got to believe Kaberle is feeling a little betrayed and upset at the fact that all summer Burke has been trying to ship him out-of-town which tells you that if the price was right he would have been gone and been an after thought. Sure, Kaberle has a great attitude and loves this team and city and expressed numerous times that he never wanted to leave. As a man who expressed that much, would you want to continue to play for this same team who only kept you because they never received the return they were looking for? I would have to think Kaberle must be feeling pretty upset at the whole situation and I believe by the trade deadline he will be asking Mr. Burke for a plane ticket out-of-town. I imagine Burke will oblige however his return might not even be as good as what he was offered this summer.
5. The final reason I believe Mr. Kaberle will be traded before season’s end, is that he is in his final year of a very cap friendly contract of $4.25 million. Now, he’s going to be looking for a significant raise when he signs his new contract probably around the 6 mil per season mark. What’s the best way to receive this increase? Play your butt off this season and put points up on the board. I believe Kaberle will have a solid offensive year and by the trade deadline he will be in the top 5 D-men in points. This will raise his stock dramatically and if the Leafs once again miss the playoffs another team may just give Burke what he has been asking for all along (that is a top six forward) and Kaberle will be shipped away as a rental player to a cup contender. I can see Kaberle waving his no-trade to do this as well for all the reasons I have mentioned above.
You can contact me via email at email@example.com or via Twitter @Jason2104. Thanks for reading my article, stay tuned for upcoming news and notes from the Toronto Maple Leafs.