August 16, 2010

What to do with Kaberle

by Dan Bilicki In: Ice Hockey

Brian Burke’s window to deal the Leafs longest-tenured player, Tomas Kaberle, has come and gone. Well, sort of. It’s just now that Kaberle’s no-trade clause has kicked back in and he’ll have to approve his destination. But that leaves me with a question: Why would he reject a trade when his new team would likely be a contender?

The defenceman surely can’t be happy playing for a losing team in a city that’s harder on its squad than any other market. The Leafs have been trying to deal him, with and without his consent for months now. Can he really feel wanted by Toronto?

Kaberle is currently the Leafs’ best offensive defenceman, but not exactly a great a defensive defenceman. Why not consider moving him not to another team, but to another position. I’ve long joked that Kaberle is the best right winger that the Leafs have and couldn’t this now be an opportunity to put the Czech where he belongs? The Leafs are overloaded with defenders, doesn’t this seem even a little bit logical?

It has also become fairly obvious that maybe Burke over-valued Kaberle to begin with. A number one defenceman on any terrible team will still put up points, almost by default. Look at what happened to the Leafs former top-six forward Dominic Moore when he was dealt. He slotted into a lesser role and become instantly over-rated. The very same could happen to Kaberle, although I’m sure the drop off wouldn’t be too great.

If there’s one thing to take away from this whole long, drawn-out ordeal is that we have not seen the end of this. When the trade deadline rolls around and the Leafs are still sitting near the edge of elimination, we’ll hear about possible Kaberle moves all over again. And unless somebody steps up to pay Burke’s big price tag, we’ll have the same result.

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