Tomas Kaberle: Scoring Threat or Defensive Liability?

Eric WarrenCorrespondent IIDecember 7, 2009

TORONTO - NOVEMBER 21:  Tomas Kaberle #15 of the Toronto Maple Leafs joins his team wearing their helmets backwards during the shoot-out against the Washington Capitals during game action November 21, 2009 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
Abelimages/Getty Images

Once again, I am weighing in on Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Tomas Kaberle.

Before I go any further, and all you Kaberle fans skip to the end and chastise me for picking on him, hear me out.

Tomas Kaberle and Phil Kessel are both almost having point-per-game seasons, each having just one point less than their amount of respective games.

This, of course, bodes well for a Leafs team that has struggled to find the net, although they regularly outshoot opponents and lead the league in shots per game.

My concern is not his offensive numbers (obviously); my concern is that he is listed as a defenseman. As such, he is a minus seven.

The only D-man ahead of Kaberle in scoring is Mike Green of the Capitals.

He has 30 points in 28 games, is a +10, and has 18 penalty minutes, compared to Kaberle's six.

Of the top 10 in defensive scoring in the NHL, two players are on the wrong side of the plus/minus: Tomas Kaberle of the Leafs, and Alex Edler of the Vancouver Canucks.

This is not an issue that has gone unnoticed by coach Wilson, regarding Kaberle's poor defensive play.

Tomas' ice time, though second in defensive scoring in the league, is 29th overall among defensemen at just over 23.5 minutes per game.

Second on the Leafs behind Beauchemin in ice time, the two are tied in plus/minus at minus seven.

Only Komisarek is worse at minus nine. (Komisarek has played eight fewer games, but is just coming off of injury.)

I like Kaberle. He's a good player. He is a good puck mover, for the most part, and has good vision up ice.

I feel that if he wants to graduate to the next level—to be considered a potential "Hall of Famer" without ever having played on a cup-contending team—he simply needs to be a better, tougher, more defensive defenseman.

On a team that struggles to score and keep the puck out of their own net, it makes more sense to me that the defense stays at home.

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