Heard On Episode 4.13 of A Foot In The Crease
Heading into the season, it was very clear that if the Maple Leafs were not in a competitive position by the midway point in the season, trade talks surrounding some of the team’s veteran players would start to heat up.
Clearly in a rebuilding position, it makes sense, and is frankly a necessary thing to do—trading established, older, veteran players in return for packages that include draft picks and prospects, instead of allowing tangible assets to go to unrestricted free agency and in turn losing them for nothing.
By now it has been made brutally obvious that the Maple Leafs are not currently and will not be at any time this season in a position to legitimately compete for a playoff spot. As a result, that aforementioned trade speculation has indeed begun.
Now the question is who will be the first to go?
If I were a betting man, I would put my money on Tomas Kaberle. Still a richly talented player, it has become clear that he is nearing the end of his ten-year career with the Maple Leafs.
Last Tuesday against San Jose, Kaberle did not see a shift in the first period. In the final forty minutes of that game, he was on the ice for four San Jose goals—not the best response to a message sent by head coach Ron Wilson.
Recently, Kaberle has seen his special teams ice time cut down, perhaps another message being sent, telling Kaberle the Maple Leafs wouldn’t mind if he decided to waive his no-trade clause.
Once he does agree to waive that clause, Kaberle would likely be the most desirable commodity the Maple Leafs have to offer.
Still very much in his prime, he is under contract for another two seasons at a very-reasonable $4.25 million, and could be a welcome addition to a Stanley Cup contender looking for an upgrade on their power play and a defenseman capable of playing a solid twenty to twenty three minutes per game.
But hey, all that was just rigamarole.