We thought Tomas Kaberle would be traded at the draft, but that never happened.
We then thought he'd be moved shortly after July 1st, but to no avail.
Now we arrive on August 15th, 12 hours away from Kaberle's no trade clause kicking back in and questions are swirling about the skilled Czech's immediate future.
Burke went public over the last few days saying the offers were getting closer, but still no cigar. This morning he said much of the same, that their were several offers on the table but none of which were worth taking, yet.
Not including Kaberle, Burke has six NHL calibre defenseman ready to start the season, seven if you include Jeff Finger. Kaberle's value is higher now than it would be at the deadline, where a team would only be trading for a player they'd only get to use for 20 or so games, plus the playoffs. In my opinion, Burke must move Kaberle now in order to build the best team going forward.
But what are the current offers? We've heard Derek Joslin and a 1st from the Sharks, something I'd consider if I was Burke. We've heard Wayne Simmonds and a mid-round pick, something else I'd consider. Burke's top priority was to bring in a big, scoring forward for Kaberle, and he still may be able to, with names like Ryan Malone still floating around. If it's pure skill Burke wants, names like Logan Couture, Devan Setoguchi and Marc Savard are still floating. But if I'm Burke, I go to bed taking the best deal offered, even if it's not 100% what I'm hoping for.
Prior to last season, it made sense to keep Kaberle. Beauchemin was coming off an injury and his skill level was unclear, while Luke Schenn, Jeff Finger and Mike Komisarek were hardly puck moving d-men. Fast forward to now and Beauchemin has proven he can still move the puck, Schenn has developed his offensive game, the team acquired Dion Phaneuff and Carl Gunnarsson has basically replaced Kaberle's puck moving abilities on his own. Kaberle's value is too high and his importance to the team is too low for him to be kept around.
So where does Kaberle end up, if he does in fact get moved? My vote right now goes to San Jose, who has both young players (Couture, Joslin) and young established players (Setoguchi, Clowe) to somehow get a deal done. I'm not saying the Leafs will get Clowe and a 1st for Kaberle, or even Couture and a first for him, because it's unlikely, but the Leafs are not against adding to the deal to make another deal better.
As for other teams involved? The Blues are still in this and David Backes is still an option for Toronto. I don't believe the Kings are still as active as they once were, but at the drop of a hat they could be right back in this. Tampa Bay is definitely involved, with the thought of re-pairing Kaberle and Kubina on Yzerman's mind. And don't forget the Bruins, who in my mind still have to replace Dennis Wideman.
It's going to be an interesting 12 hours and I for one will be glad when Kaberle is finally dealt. If he isn't, I think Burke has missed out on an opportunity to better his team now and in the future.