It seems that this is the million dollar question that has been hanging over the Toronto Maple Leafs for what seems an eternity.
Will the Toronto Maple Leafs deal Tomas Kaberle?
Seems like a simple enough question. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be a simple enough answer.
If you believe in the notion that trading Tomas Kaberle will in fact turn the fortunes of this franchise around, you are sadly mistaken.
The overwhelming fact is that many believe that trading Kaberle must be only done only if top notch talent returns to the Leafs in exchange for the crafty veteran.
Honestly, you want to make the best deal you can, in any trade—why would this potential situation be any different?
One reason is that Tomas Kaberle is the only piece that the Leafs have of any worth on the open NHL market.
No disrespect to any current Leafs, but honestly, if Leafs GM Brian Burke were to move Kessel or Kadri or any other combination of these players, or players he has recently acquired or signed, it would clearly be a panic move by the Leafs management team.
Or would it? You decide.
Would you package up everyone you could this March and send them throughout the league and get whatever you could in return? Dump salary and acquire assets.
It's not that easy.
When you're a seller, you also run the risk of being "low-balled" on any offers. There is risk no matter how you look at it.
Either being a "buyer" or "seller" you run the risk of not getting the deal you prefer.
Many also believe that Brian Burke figured this team would be better than it ultimately is; that a player of the ability of Kaberle would help the situation in Toronto and not make it worse.
With the deterioration of this hockey club being what it is, waiting to move Kaberle could and will most likely cost the Leafs in the end.
A deal has to be there. I don't believe teams are lining up at this point in time to consider adding Kaberle to their clubs, but there are some that might need the services of a Tomas Kaberle.
The ironic part is that one of those clubs might be arguably one of Toronto's biggest rivals—the Montreal Canadiens, who have lost the services of All-Star defenceman Andrei Markov for the season.
This franchise had, in my opinion, had once in a lifetime opportunity to completely rebuild top to bottom. A new era was about to begin (salary cap) and with that would come opportunity—if your willing to be patience.
Build and add pieces as they become available. I don't even need to mention the current clubs that are working that plan almost to perfection; they are giving themselves a chance, at least to succeed.
But the overwhelming fact that this franchise's management team choose a different road. If that road was successful, would Tomas Kaberle even be considered in a trade?
I'd say no.
Just about every successful NHL club has a player of the talent level of Kaberle. His skill set is highly desirable. Image the potential success Tomas could enjoy with another club surrounded by highly skilled players who fit the style Kaberle plays.
I see teams like Detroit, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and the aforementioned Montreal Canadiens as the teams that could use Kaberle right now let alone in March and beyond.
So, it would be truly ironic had the Leafs rebuilding, re-tooling whatever Brian Burke calls it this week, deemed a success because trading Tomas Kaberle wouldn't even be an option, would it?
In the salary cap NHL, there will be no returning to the days when the Leafs, Rangers and Flyers could "buy" there way out of their self induced player personnel troubles.
Cost certainty they say...ain't it a... wonderful thing!
In the end, should Kaberle be dealt, it will for the most part be up to Tomas Kaberle.
I believe it when he says he wants to stay in Toronto and be part of the success of the franchise, but there must be a part of him that wants to move on.
Don't all players want to win a Cup?
Maybe Kaberle should ask Ray Bourque for some advise?
The troubling fact remains to be that this one player is the only commodity this club has, the last poker chip if you will. If Kaberle allows Burke to trade him, the gamble might pay off.
If Burke really feels Tomas Kaberle is an important piece of the future of the Leafs, then Burke should offer him a long-term deal, settle these rumors and begin moving on.
In the end, it seems to be a lot more complicated than it really should be.
How did it all come down to this?
Mike MacDonald is a Featured Columnist and covers the NHL and Nashville Predators