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NHL Trade Rumors: Will the Toronto Maple Leafs Deal Tomas Kaberle?

Thomas CopainCorrespondent IDecember 8, 2010

NHL Trade Rumors: Will the Toronto Maple Leafs Deal Tomas Kaberle?

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    Abelimages/Getty Images

    NHL Trade Rumors are heating up as the temperature cools down.

    Most of the rumors are swirling around Toronto, as General Manager Brian Burke tries to save a season quickly disintegrating around them. Most of the talk has centered around acquiring a top-flight center like Brad Richards. But expect if the trade deadline gets closer and the Leafs fall out of it, for there to be talk about unloading Tomas Kaberle.

    Burke has come out and said that he will not trade Kaberle, and Kaberle's no trade clause makes it a lot harder to move if they chose to do so. Odds are overwhelmingly that Burke will stick to his word and keep Kaberle.

    But if something does happen and he is available, here are some teams that might be in on him.

New York Rangers

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    Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images

    The Rangers have desperately needed a power play quarterback since they traded Brian Leetch...to Toronto. If Kaberle becomes available, he would definitely fill a need and Glen Sather would probably push for him if they can't get anything done for Richards, their No. 1 target.

    There were reports that the Stars wanted a deal to be built around a combination of players including Brandon Dubinsky, Derek Stepan, Marc Staal or Michael Del Zotto. If it comes down to that, expect Burke to ask for something similar.

    If he does go, and I stress if, this might be the most likely candidate.

San Jose Sharks

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    Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

    The Sharks need and want depth on the blueline with a couple of injuries and a struggling team after Rob Blake decided to retire. Kaberle could be a veteran presence and an offensive spark to the power play to take some of the pressure off of Dan Boyle and others. 

    Of course, the Sharks don't have a lot of cap room and would have to send some contracts back the other way. Joe Pavelski would be a center the Leafs might want, but that's a tradeoff San Jose probably wouldn't make, especially since he signed a new contract and I doubt the Sharks would send Logan Couture off.

    The Sharks will probably look for a defenseman and could very well deal with Toronto. There's just a greater chance it would be for a Francois Beauchemin.

Columbus Blue Jackets

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    The Blue Jackets are struggling and falling in the standings in the tightly-compacted West. A power play quarterback would spark the offense and give them legitimacy in the West. But would the Blue Jackets want to deal away young talent, and conversely do the Maple Leafs want anything Columbus has, which other than Rick Nash is not much.

    Columbus needs an offensive defenseman, but the fact the Jackets passed on free-agent Marc-Andre Bergeron probably means they're willing to wait.

Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Tampa could be put over the top by a offensive defenseman such as Kaberle that could line up at the blueline on the first power play unit with Steven Stamkos. Kaberle's addition could also stabilize the defense and provide help to two shell-shocked goalies in Dan Ellis and Mike Smith. Tampa has cap room and prospects they can trade, but for a team possibly overachieving and a GM in Steve Yzerman who learned the Detroit way, I don't think they would do that.

    Kaberle would help, but this isn't likely. 

Montreal Canadiens

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    Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

    Kaberle is an offensive specialist that can jump-start a power play and be a top-four defenseman. Montreal just lost it's power play quarterback and top defenseman and needs help on its power play. But to suggest that each team deals inside its division to its biggest rival would not normally and will not happen, especially in this case. It doesn't mean that it hasn't happened before - the Canadiens traded Mikhail Grabovski to Toronto. But for a player like Kaberle, even though the Canadiens have a need and might even be able to pawn off Scott Gomez' contract on Toronto, doesn't mean they'll talk.

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