Sunday, August 15, 2010

Will he stay or will he go?

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.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Kaberle Watch 2010

With ten days remaining in Tomas Kaberle's lack of no trade clause, it's expected that the offers will start going north when it comes to his value.

Sources tell that there are currently three teams with significant offers on the table: San Jose, Boston and LA. Whispers suggest Florida and Washington are involved as well, but how truthful those two teams interest are, im unsure.

The deal with the Bruins is likely the closest to happening, with the Bruins said to be offering Marc Savard and a high draft pick, possibly Boston's own first rounder. While Savard has a lengthy contract and a history of concussion problems, he had success with Phil Kessel and would fill a giant void up the middle for Toronto. With Boston signing Seguin earlier this week, the team would love nothing more than to move out one of the veteran centres.

San Jose's offer, from what I've been told, involves Ryan Clowe and a defensive prospect. Clowe wouldn't solve the Leafs problem up the middle, but would give the Leafs another offensive option on the wing. The prospect would play for the marlies and would be someone who could join the team mid-season when injuries strike.

The most interesting option may be the LA Kings, who apparently are only offering prospects and draft picks for the popular Czech defenseman. While this wouldn't help the Leafs now, the prospects being talked about outvalue the offers of both San Jose and Boston.

The feeling around the league is that Burke will deal Kaberle by the 15th of August and will simply take the deal that makes the most sense at that time. He knows that Kaberle's value will not be any higher than it is now, and he's very aware that Kaberle has no spot in Toronto this season, despite what he says publically.

Niemi remains a free agent and likely will heading into next week. I still believe the Sharks are the frontrunners to land him and making that offer sheet a few weeks ago was all part of their plan to lure the latest goaltender to win the Stanley Cup to California. Rumours of Montreal having interest in Niemi are false, but there are a few Canadian teams with interest: Edmonton and Ottawa. One other team to keep an eye on in all of this: Atlanta.

And finally we turn to Ilya Kovalchuk, who should know where he sits tomorrow. I pray that he remains a New Jersey Devil and that the league is forced to honour his contract, because once the Kovalchuk domino falls, a lot more should fall into place.