Since Brian Burke joined the Toronto Maple Leafs on November 29th of 2008, the rumours of Tomas Kaberle's departure in a trade began. The skilled defenseman lacked the size and nastiness Burke was thought to be looking for in his defense. He was certainly gone, sooner rather than later.
For the past two and a half years, I have barely gone a week without seeing someone twitter, squeek, blog or even just plain write about a possible Kaberle deal. The list of players rumoured to be sought in those deals is as unrecoverable as it is unimaginable. Among players purported to be heading to Toronto for the middling offensive defenseman were Anze Kopitar, Brad Richards, Vincent Lecavalier, Ales Hemsky, Jarome Iginla, Corey Perry, Daniel Briere; well it just didn't end.
At the last NHL entry draft Burke said he had received three offers and one insult for the defenseman. He insisted all along that a possible trade for Tomas Kaberle must include one scoring forward and one first round draft pick.
My contention was that he wasn't worth a first half of a first round draft pick or a very good offensive forward. Couple that with the no-trade contract and the diminishing time he was under contract, and it seemed very likely that Kaberle was going to be moved at the deadline for a fourth round pick if he was even traded at all.
Two and a half years of frantic speculation were likely to dissolve into a cloud of internet ether never to be recovered. Kaberle would quietly sign with a Stanley Cup contender in the off-season and every story I'd read on the topic, every minute I spent on it, would have been a complete waste of time.
Instead Brian Burke, a week before the trade deadline, managed to move Kaberle to a Boston Bruins team that despite injury has a chance to come through the Eastern half of the NHL playoffs. Burke got a forward. Mind you, Joe Colborne is a long way from being an NHL offensive forward.
The kid from Calgary is huge at 6' 5" and 210 lbs. At 21 he is a half point a game player in the AHL. What's worse the playmaker seems to lack the physical nastiness Burke wants in all his players. The 2008 first rounder didn't feature in the Bruins plans in the near future, but he's likely to see his career advance quicker in Toronto. The desperation for a center to play with Kessel will see Colborne getting a chance as early as next year. He's a fair skater but he will have trouble staying with Kessel.
Burke also got a first round pick back for Kaberle. The Bruins depth in picks made it much easier for them to give up their first rounder. If they finish in the Eastern Finals or better, the pick at best will be 26th overall.
Toronto also gets a second round pick conditional on the Bruins making the Stanley Cup finals or re-signing Kaberle after this season.
The talented Kaberle will do well in Boston and should be great at feeding Chara on the point of the power play. This will be a nice opportunity for him to show his skills on a playoff team.
Brian Burke has managed to get a lot for a rental player like Kaberle, who while good is certainly not an elite NHL player. The time and care he has taken to make this deal has been well worth it.
I'm not a Brian Burke fan, but the trading of the last three months of Kaberle's contract for a first round and potential second round draft pick and a prospect is impressive. Throw in his ability to move Beauchemin for potential and this has been a very good run up to trade deadline for Brian Burke.
Despite the ridiculous amount of attention the struggle to trade one Toronto Maple Leaf has gotten over the last two years it has apparently all been worth it in the end. Next time though I just want to read the final story not the thousand previews.