Cox: Kaberle sweepstakes heating up

The moment the 2010 NHL entry draft begins, the Tomas Kaberle trade window opens.

Not that teams are waiting until then.

Maple Leafs president/GM Brian Burke said Wednesday from Las Vegas that he already has “four concrete offers” on the table for the veteran blueliner, and that another eight teams have made initial inquiries.

“Once I get to L.A. for the draft, I expect things to heat up even more,” said Burke.

Given the events of the past week — the Jaroslav Halak deal, Philly’s move to acquire the rights to Dan Hamhuis , Boston’s big swap to land Nathan Horton , the blockbuster between Chicago and Atlanta on Wednesday that may have solved the Hawks’ cap problems in one fell swoop — Burke could be right. It certainly appears to be well worth expecting the unexpected, with any number of moving pieces on the NHL front and more than half of the league’s clubs looking to make significant moves.

Kaberle, it’s clear, is a unique property, the only one of the NHL’s top 10 defence scorers available, a player capable of playing on the best two pairs of virtually all the other 29 clubs. At 32, he would appear to have significant miles left to skate, he’s played full seasons in two of the past three years and he has a very manageable contract with one more season left to run.

Which might make you wonder why the Leafs, 29th-place finishers, are looking to move him. Well, Burke swears he’s not actively doing so, and is only fielding offers because Kaberle’ s no-trade clause is temporarily suspended between the beginning of the entry draft (7 p.m. EST Friday) and Aug. 15.

“There’s a really good chance he’ll be coming back to Toronto,” said Burke. “Believe me, the draft is not a deadline for us to trade Tomas Kaberle. It’s only draft-specific if it involves draft picks.”

Interestingly, Burke said he’s confident he could already get a first-rounder for Friday night’s draft, something in the bottom third of the first round, but wants different assets for Kaberle .–cox-kaberle-sweepstakes-heating-up