It Is Time For Leafs' Defensemen Tomas Kaberle To Go?

Daniel SewellContributor IDecember 3, 2008

Ever since that devastating blow was delivered by former New Jersey Devils' Cam Janssen to Kaberle—which effectively sidelined the Czech for eight games—he hasn't seemed to play the same game. No longer do you witness those terrific no-look outlet passes nor those talented puckmoving abilities of the slick Kaberle.

And it hasn't just been his offensive skills that have spiralled downwards, but his defensive play as well. He's horrid in his own zone, and he has consistently shown that he no longer can perform as a number one defensemen, something he used to be recognized as. With every painstakingly obvious mistake, Leafs' fans and coaching staff alike must groan.

Still, if stats alone were to be any indication of Kaberle's performance in the past three years, it is hard to be disappointed.

In the 2006-2007 season, Kaberle posted 11 goals and and 58 points, with a +/- of plus-three in only 74 games. The following season he showed a decline, managing eight goals and 53 assists, with a +/- of -8 in 82 games. So far, Kaberle hasn't proven to be any better, now that he owns a +/- of negative-seven and two goals, 15 points in 25 games.

There are people who could argue that during that timeframe, the numbers are exceptional, considering that the Leafs suffered from porous defense and struggling goaltending. But there is no excuse for the on-ice signs that Kaberle isn't the same.

In fact, it has become increasingly apparent that Kaberle's play is beginning to fall. With Burke as the General Manager, there has be some accountability for poor play by arguably the team's top player in terms of sheer talent—or talent he used to have.

It has to be wondered, will Kaberle be with us at the end of the year? His style of play certainly does not seem to suit the physical, and aggressive minded Burke. Kaberle is a softer defensemen, who tends to refrain from using his body. Although he has been known for his excellent puckmoving abilities, that no longer can save him from being traded.

There are teams that'd take a chance on Kaberle, no doubt. His contract is reasonable, with a salary cap hit of $4,250,000 until the end of the 2010-11 season.

What will it be?