Burke puts Kaberle on auction block

Any pretence that the Maple Leafs are not looking to trade Tomas Kaberle has evaporated.

It can’t be done until the entry draft in Los Angeles on June 25 — well, technically it could be done before if Kaberle were to waive his no-trade clause — but it’s clear GM Brian Burke and the Leaf brain trust will be disappointed if they can’t move Kaberle for something substantial over the coming weeks.

Since the Leafs again missed the playoffs, Kaberle’s no-trade clause is temporarily voided between the beginning of the entry draft and Aug. 15, giving the Leafs a 51-day window to move the veteran defenceman without his consent.

Kaberle has one year remaining on his $4.25 million (all figures U.S.) per season contract and will be an unrestricted free agent after next season.

“The biggest issue we have is obviously Tomas Kaberle’s status,” said Burke after the GM meetings in downtown Philadelphia on Wednesday. “We’ve informed the teams how his no-trade works. (Former Leaf GM) John Ferguson rigged that very cleverly, that if the team didn’t have success (the no-trade clause) went away when the draft began.

“So we’re listening. We need to add a winger that can score, preferably with some size. And we need some secondary toughness. So those would be the areas we would try to address.”

Burke sent out emails this week to several teams ostensibly to explain how Kaberle’s no-trade rights work. That said, he’s now clearly in the business of trying to create a market.

“A couple of teams asked how it works, so we made sure everyone understands it,” he said. “Based on the interest already, I’d say there’s significant interest in Tomas Kaberle . But it goes back to the fact that we like him. He’s a good player, he wants to stay in Toronto, he’s a good person and he’s at a good wage.”