Today, Brian Burke continued to shake up the Toronto Maple Leafs as he traded four-time All-Star Tomas Kaberle to the Boston Bruins in exchange for former first-round pick Joe Colborne, Boston's first-round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft and a conditional second-round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft if Kaberle re-signs with the Bruins or Boston makes it to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Looking at the trade, most people will agree that the Toronto Maple Leafs were very well compensated for the services of Kaberle, technically receiving two first-round picks for the services of the now-former Maple Leafs defenseman.
But what does this mean for the Maple Leafs defensive core?
I mean Brian Burke did state today that he has no intention of having this team make the playoffs and being beaten in the first round (his words were a little more blunt than mine just were), and with the two most experienced defensemen on the Leafs roster leaving in the last two weeks, who will replace the production that Tomas Kaberle provided for the Maple Leafs for so many seasons?
Looking at the roster, you cannot help but wonder that same question.
Mentioning four of the six names currently set to play for Saturday, it is blatantly clear that three of the six defensemen are of the stay-at-home kind (Schenn, Komisarek and Aulie). Not to mention that Brett Lebda hasn't really excelled in any role on this team so far this season.
Dion Phaneuf is a former All-Star and 60-point player, but in the past two seasons he has not really shown the "truculence" and scoring ability that made him such a promising young player earlier in his career.
Maybe this is an opportunity for Carl Gunnarsson to finally show what he can do when given the time on the power play. He does also have a cannon of a shot, and at times has shown that he can make a very good pass. But with only nine points in 44 games this season we can only hope at this point that Gunnarsson can snap out of what is somewhat of a sophomore slump and show the promise and potential he had shown last season.
Could Luke Schenn show some offensive prowess and expand on his solid play?
In my opinion he has been one of the most consistent players on what has been a very inconsistent team. But with him already averaging 22:32 minutes a game, it is hard to see where Ron Wilson could fit more onto an already full plate of responsibility.
The Toronto Marlies could be a good option. Prospects Matt Lashoff and Simon Gyspers have been playing very well in an offensive defenseman role on a pretty abysmal Toronto Marlies team. Both respectively have over 20 points apiece, seven goals each and both are plus players. This could be their chance to show Brian Burke and the Leafs brass that they are ready for the NHL in a full-time role.
Finally there is the option of making another trade. With the Maple Leafs in this situation, maybe it is a good chance to trade for a player that can fill that offensive defenseman role until the end of the season or until a prospect like Gardiner or Blacker can step in and properly quarterback the power play.
Who Will Replace Tomas Kaberle's Production?
One name that comes to mind is Sheldon Souray. I know I might get ripped into for this one, but hear me out. He has a year left on this contract after this season, he has been getting a point every two games this season in Hershey of the AHL and can easily fill a role on the team on the power play until a younger guy can properly develop into the type of player we are looking for.
Plus we would most likely get a prospect or draft pick along with his salary.
Overall in my opinion, I believe that the position will be filled with two options: Brian Burke will fill the role with a prospect like Matt Lashoff, or he is going to trade for a defenseman with a big salary that becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.
Either way, I am very confident that Brian Burke will find a way to fill the void, at least until the end of the season. Or do we really want Brett Lebda on the first-line power play?