Right when you thought Tomas Kaberle rumours couldn’t possibly pick up any more, they have.
Rogers Sportsnet kicked off some massive speculation on Tuesday night that Kaberle is very likely to be Boston bound, by reporting that Kaberle has agreed to waive his no-trade clause, but only if it means being traded to the Bruins. The report says that “the Maple Leafs defenceman has granted the club permission to speak to only one team, the Bruins, regarding a potential trade…”
Subsequently, TSN reported that no such thing has happened, but that Kaberle has told Leafs president and general manager Brian Burke that he would likely accept a trade to the Bruins.
The only thing that Burke did confirm is that he is in talks with the Bruins. So, the average Maple Leaf fan must wonder what the Maple Leafs could get in return for Kaberle, and possibly another asset, prospect or draft pick.
Although there are a lot of forwards currently playing for the Bruins that would fit well on the Leafs’ roster, there are not many that the Bruins are shopping. The most likely Bruins forwards to leave town before the trade deadline are Michael Ryder and Blake Wheeler. The only problems the Maple Leafs may have with that is that Ryder is having another mediocre season, and Blake Wheeler hasn’t been overly impressive while the Bruins will be asking for a lot in exchange.
Perhaps the biggest thing the Bruins have working in their favour is that Kaberle’s wish to remain in Toronto unless he is traded to Boston has become public. If it is true, the Bruins will have no problem playing hard ball will the Leafs because there are second options available, such as St. Louis’ Eric Brewer and Ottawa’s Chris Phillips.
With that in mind, just imagine what Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli is asking for in exchange for young Wheeler, who has 10 goals and 15 assists in 57 games for the Bruins this season.
So, are we be about to see draft picks and prospects come to the Leafs in exchange for Kaberle, or will Burke be willing to trade an asset or decent draft pick, such as Carl Gunnarsson, Jean-Sebastien Giguere or even Philadelphia’s third round pick?
It’s really too hard to tell at this moment, because Burke has already traded Kris Versteeg for no immediate help, and acquired a prospect and a draft pick from the Anaheim Ducks. However he also acquired Joffrey Lupul from the Ducks, someone who is expected to contribute to the Leafs immediately. As you can see, it’s unclear whether Burke is trying to re-build this team, or doing everything he possibly can in order to ice a playoff team, even though he says he is attempting the latter.
So, aside from a potentially different-than-expected return, what would Kaberle going to the Bruins mean for the Maple Leafs?
Well, for starters it would mean that the Leafs would be playing against another top-tier defenceman on a regular basis, since Kaberle would still be playing in the same division. Second, it could be that the Leafs would have more draft picks for a potential re-build, and third, it would likely mean that they would become an even younger team. At age 32, Kaberle is one of just two players─Giguere is the other─on the Leafs’ roster in his 30’s.
Maybe what people don’t recognize the most is that Kaberle to the Bruins could even mean significantly more salary cap space for free agency. That is if the Leafs only acquire draft picks, or picks and prospects.
Stay tuned ladies and gentleman. Things are about to get very interesting on the Kaberle front.
Follow me on Twitter @LukasHardonk for more Maple Leafs coverage, including news, rumours and game updates.
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