The Maple Leafs aren’t certain they want to deal veteran defenseman Tomas Kaberle, but he has agreed to waive his no-trade cluase and earlier this week provided Toronto GM Brian Burke with a list of 10 cities where he will agree to play.
According to two sources with direct knowledge of the list, Boston is among Kaberle’s 10 teams.
”Kaberle is not going anywhere,” Burke wrote by e-mail this morning, neither confirming nor denying that Boston is on the 30-year-old defenseman’s list, ”unless someone blows me away.”
Kaberle, sidelined since the end of January with a fracture in his right hand, was rumored to be headed to Philadlephia at last year’s trade deadline. According to reports at the time, Kaberle blocked a move orchestrated by then-Leafs GM Cliff Fletcher that would have had him shipped to Philadelphia for center Jeff Carter and a first-round draft pick.
If another club stepped up with a similiar offer on or before this season’s March 4 trade deadline, that could be enough for Burke, fresh on the job to make the Leafs relevant again, to make a deal.
In a like proposal, the Bruins would have to offer one of their top young forwards — David Krejci or Phil Kessel — and a first-round pick. An alternative deal would be, say, one of those forwards and one of two defensemen, either Matt Lashoff or Matt Hunwick. Not likely, but also not something that could be relegated to the theater of the absurb.
Kaberle is considered a rare commodity, a puck-moving defenseman, who is on the books for two more years at a relatively economical $4.25 million a year. Some of the game’s best puck-moving defensemen these days command at least 50 percent more money, including the likes of Chicago’s Brian Campbell ($7.14 million cap hit) and San Jose’s Dan Boyle ($6.67 million). Kaberle isn’t necessarily considered in their strata, but he is very good,
“He probably would fetch the most value on the trade market,” Burke told the National Post at the start of this month. “Of course, that should be the reason why he’s so valuable to us.”
Burke added in the same Post story that he has been offered a top-five pick for rookie defenseman Luke Schenn, widely considered one of the most promising young blue liners in the game.
Boston GM Peter Chiarelli, keen to make a deal or two in the next 10 days, has said since last summer that he would like to add a puck-moving defenseman. When Burke was in Anaheim at the start of the season, Chiarelli entertained the idea of swapping for then-Duck Mathieu Schneider, who was ultimately dished to Atlanta and just the other day was dished to Montreal.
The emergence here this season of Dennis Wideman as a skilled puck-lugger has mitigated that need somewhat, but every team in the league — save perhaps the Red Wings — has ”adding backline mobility” atop their ”to-do” lists.
The Bruins, owners of the NHL’s best record thus far in 2008-09, would have a better chance of winning the Cup with Kaberle. Given that those chances to win are few and fleeting, Chiarelli might be swayed to come up with a package for the lefthanded-shooting defenseman.
Kaberle broke a bone in his right hand at the end of January and has missed the last nine Toronto games. He is expected to be ready again by about the middle of next week, on or before the March 4 trade deadline.
A career Maple Leaf (730 games, 73-359-432), Kaberle was a very late pick (No. 204) in the 1996 entry draft. He turns 31 years old Monday, two days prior to the trade deadline.