Kaberle Likely Next to Go

There were 3 things that needed to happen before the Toronto Maple Leafs could really start to entertain offers for blueliner Tomas Kaberle.

While they’ve gotten some nibbles, its now where some tangible offers should come on the table.

The Leafs first needed the distractions of the draft to pass and allow teams to focus on their current rosters than on the rosters of tomorrow.

GM Brian Burke did mention this during the draft as he put the Kaberle talks on the shelf at that time as teams were simply too busy to think trades.

Secondly, the initial free agent frenzy needed to pass as well. With teams not knowing their cap situation after the dust settled and with a few other blueliners on the market, there was just no way of knowing who would and would not be interested in Kaberle until after all that hoopla of July 1st dissipated.

There were teams, like the Devils, Pens, Ducks and Lightning who were rumoured to have interest in Kaberle. But all of those teams spent heavily in free agency and all reshaped their D to some degree. Seeing some of these teams pick up free agents somewhat sorted out the who’s in and who’s out of the Kaberle sweepstakes.

Lastly, the biggest free agent of all that was available had to sign. That was Ilya Kovalchuk. While it was really a 2 team race, some others left out hope. Kovalchuk eventually went to Jersey and finally some clarity can perhaps come with Kaberle.

Kovalchuk signing was key as it was rumoured that the loser of the Kovalchuk running would go after Kaberle. While that remains to be seen, Kaberle now is the biggest name available.

In another turn of events, Simon Gagne became available and he too joined a new club the same day as the Kovalchuk signing. A pending UFA himself with a no trade clause, Gagne emerged as another interesting name made available with the Flyers in some cap difficulties thanks to their other moves.

With that done with, now perhaps teams can focus on Kaberle.

A strong possibility is too that Kaberle stays. He has hinted many times he loves Toronto and wants to stay. Burke as well has said he likes the player, his cap number and what he brings.

But, a separation may benefit both club and player as Kaberle probably could use a fresh start, after years of decent play but team struggles. Losing may be wearing on him and perhaps going to a win now environment to a team certain to play in the playoffs with help him.

The Leafs too still have some needs to fill and easily their best bargaining chip is their All Star blueliner.

The team is set in goal with Giguere, likely the co-number 1 and mentor to the teams young goalies and Gustavsson, the co-number 1, and future number 1 netminder for the Leafs.

The Leafs added Brett Lebda via free agency to add depth on D. He joins major mid-season acquisition Dion Phaneuf, their new captain, along with key holdovers Komisarek, Beauchemin, Schenn and Gunnarsson to likely form the team’s top 6 D if Kaberle goes. With Jeff Finger in tow as well, along with some decent kids on the farm, there is some ok depth here on defense, and perhaps this would allow a Kaberle move. While it could always be better, like having another high end D man to develop and follow in the foot-steps of Schenn, its much better than the days where Jamie Sifers was a top D prospect for the team.

It is at forward where the Leafs need the most assistance. The additions of Versteeg and Armstrong this summer will help immensely. They’re easily top 9 forwards on any team and will help Toronto in many areas. Both excel on the PK, both are very versatile, both play with some sandpaper. Armstrong is an intimidating hitter and should help add that truculence and testosterone to the front line.

Versteeg bring more skill and after two very good years in a support role for the Hawks, where he notched 2 20 goal seasons playing behind the likes of Kane, Toews, Sharp, Hossa, he may finally get a starring role here in Toronto.

He joins 30 goal man Phil Kessel, emerging youngsters like Bozak, Kadri and Kulemin and other players with some skill like Grabovski, Hanson, Mitchell, Caputi, Irwin as players looking to aid in the Leafs offensive woes.

While some of the moves should really shore up some key areas like the PK, being harder to play against, more aggression, a more willingness to play in traffic and overall defensive play, the team may still struggle.

Goals do seemingly look tough to come by from this group other than a couple of proven players.

Another goalscorer or top 6 forward will go a long way to help Toronto attempt to deviate from those group of teams logjammed between 6th and 13th place.

This is where Kaberle comes into play.

So what kind of potential deals are out there?

Well there are the teams who are not interest or cannot afford Kaberle.

They include the cap crunch teams like Philly, Chicago, Detroit, Boston, New Jersey, Calgary, Vancouver, NY Rangers, Edmonton.

Also includes the financially non-viable teams with money and/or ownership problems or simply just cheap. These include Phoenix, Dallas, Nashville, Florida, Carolina, Atlanta, NY Islanders, St Louis.

And there’s those who made blueline additions already like Buffalo, Tampa, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Anaheim

And there’s the rivals like Montreal and Ottawa.

Obviously any one of these teams could step up and be interested, and perhaps made the most viable offer. But it seems though heaven and earth need to move before something gives with these teams.

So who’s left?

Los Angeles Kings

The Kings lost out on Kovalchuk. So what now? Well they have been rumored to have interest in Kaberle. However do they have the top 6 forward to fulfill Toronto’s wishes? They do not. Justin Williams has skill but has struggled with injuries. Stoll is solid but not a top 6 forward. Frolov is a free agent, Brown is their captain and they will never trade Kopitar. All it leaves for forwards is Brayden Schenn. But he is unproven and no guarantee to help Toronto immediately. With LA, it may take a 3rd team to make this work. One who`d be interested in getting a young, top defensive prospect, which LA has many of, like Colton Teubert or Thomas Hickey, while having that depth up front to be willing to part with a top 6 forward. This could be tricky.

Cap Space = 16.1 mil
Available players: Johnson, Schenn, Teubert, Hickey, Stoll, Williams, Quick or Bernier, Drewskie, Moller. Voinov.
Current D: Doughty, Johnson, Greene, Scuderi, Drewskie, Harrold, Martinez

San Jose Sharks

The Sharks are also a team with high interest. Its a good fit in that the Sharks are in win now mode, have an opening on D with Blake retired, could use more mobility, a factor that was exposed in the West finals and they lost out on Hjalmarsson, whom they put an offer sheet on. They also have 2 forwards potentially available. With Thornton, Heatley, Marleau and Pavelski, they have a great big 4 up front. Couture and McGinn have lots of promise too. They probably have room for just one of Setogutchi or Clowe. Thats mostly due to what they’ve committed money wise at forward and with Thornton due to be a UFA in a year.

Setogutchi is currently a RFA. The Sharks do have 6 mil in cap space to use, however need 5 roster spots to fill. However last year the team was content to fill out the team with cheap, well travelled vets so that shouldnt be an issue.

Clowe is the kind of Burke type player. He is big, tough, can score 25 or so goals, goes to the net, sticks up for his mates. He’s someone the Sharks would like to keep too. But, they do have a big hole on D and really need to strengthen their top 4. The Sharks, despite their odd choices for goaltenders, are in fact in win now mode and are finally looking to get
over the hump and contend for the cup.

Cap Space = 6.1 mil
Available Players: Setogutchi, Clowe, their 1st rounder, Doherty, McLaren.
Current D: Boyle, Murray, Vlasic, Leach, Huskins, Demers, Wallin.

Colorado Avalanche

The Avs are a real darkhorse in all of this. They’ve done nothing much but some minor cosmetic surgery to the team. They’re no longer a big, rich organization, however, they have lots of cap space, and even locking up their key RFAs, they’ll still have plenty of room left over.

The team is very deep up front with a nice core of Stastny, Mueller, Duchene, Stewart, O’Reilly up front. They have lots of good, young players, but, after a brief taste of the playoffs, may want more. The playoff revenue helps and bringing some of that winning tradition back to Colorado may help bring back fans.

While they have Quincey and Liles and some ok kids on the way or at least close to being full-timers, they may want an upgrade. They have some youth they could part with, plus, they’re a team that has quietly gone about it’s business and may want a big splash to spark some interest.

They may not have the horses to part with however, but, they’re likely going to stick their nose in this to see what comes of it.

Cap space = 23 million
Available players: Stoa, Jones, McLeod, Gaunce, Cohen, Liles, Shatterkirk, possibly a 1st.
Current D: Foote, Hannan, Liles, *****insky, Quincey, Wilson,

Columbus Blue Jackets

The Jackets were one of the earliest rumored teams this summer in the Kaberle hunt. There was talk of the 4th overall pick but that seemed far-fetched.

They do have a serious need for a puck moving, mobile dman who can help their PP and get the puck better to their good forwards. They’ve recently been linked to Kevin Bieska, another dman available now via trade, but probably still are keen on Kaberle.

The issue may be a contract extension. That is a big crutch for all teams, but moreso for newer, less known teams like the Jackets. King James left Ohio, so is that a place to go long term? Who knows. But, any offer will likely require some hope of an extension before the Jackets would commit.

They have kids like Brassard or Filatov to dangle, but is that enough? Are more smallish forwards what Burke is looking for? Its a tough call but based on need, there is interest here.

They have a good young team, led by Nash and should at least on paper contend for one of the final spots out west. But they need some offense from the defense and Kaberle may solve their woes.

Cap Space = 8.9 mil
Available Players = Brassard, Filatov, Russell, Umberger, Murray, Pahlsson, Golubef.
Current D: Commodore, Tyutin, Stralman, Russell, Methot, Hedja, Klesla

Washington Capitals

The Caps seem like the only team in the East with a viable shot at Kaberle.

The presidents trophy winners, who bowed out shockingly in the 1st round of the playoffs have done very little this off-season in terms of new additions.

They’re obviously not good enough and could very well try and make a big splash. They’ve built up a good cupboard of prospects and have lots of talent. While they do have the best offensive defenseman in the game in Mike Green, a secondary talent back there as good as Kaberle would make them even more dangerous.

Kaberle’s playmaking ability with the likes of Ovechkin, Semin and Backstrom around would be fabulous. With last year’s failure, a big move could bring some momentum back to Washington and help the Caps surge forward.

While there is a concern with Semin a pending UFA, this team is looking to win now and be yet another young club to take it all a la Pittsburgh and Chicago. The sight of those teams winning certainly would have an effect on the Caps.

Cap Space = 8.5 mil
Available Players: Fehr, Fleischmann, Johansson, Bouchard, Steckel, Semin, Alzner, Neuvirth.
Current D: Green Schultz, Poti, Carlson, Alzner, Erskine, Sloan

Certainly the list is not complete. Any one of the other 29 teams would love to get Kaberle. They have roughly less than a month to trade for him or else they could wait a year to try and sign him as a UFA.

But some teams needs are immediate, as is their interest. And with the recent events, there is certainly a strong chance something happens sooner than later.

Its not horrible either way for Toronto. Yes, not picking up a top 6 forward, using their best trade asset will seem like a loss. But, if they keep him, they’re keeping a good player. That’s never a bad thing….unless its Toronto so it seems.

142 Responses to Kaberle Likely Next to Go

  1. mojo19 says:

    Looks good but Lou speaks very highly of Greene, call him underrated. I would expect to see him in that line up.

    Actually, considering that, I'd say he's probably done making moves with his blueline. But it is an interesting trade.

  2. mojo19 says:

    I don’t know how to feel about Setoguchi. What happened to him last year, why did he take such a big step back after his breakout year? I mean he still scored 20 but 36 points compared to 65 the previous year isn’t great.

    He’s an interesting player but I’m not 100% on him.

  3. reinjosh says:

    Yep, I agree. It would give us two legitimate top line threats.

  4. reinjosh says:

    Whats with the Zubrus love? Overpaid for a serious lack of production that would go to waste on our third line?

  5. cam7777 says:

    That's definitely an outsiders view of Dubinsky.  The reality is, despite his limited upside over Grabovski, who is also a 20 goal, 50 point man over a full season, he is still a third line center.  The Rags already have Drury manning that role, and while he is older, it's pretty clear that Sather isn't one of the GM that really caters to youth and is weary of veterans.  He loves his vets.

    Dubinsky put up most of his points playing with Gaborik, but was largely useless offensively without him.  There's no doubt that Grabovski's offensive potential is greater than Dubinsky's.  The Rags need more offense, so for them, maximizing Gaborik as an asset means everything.  That means they need a playmaking center.  If Grabovski isn't the guy, fine, but maybe we try to work a deal out with someone else, where the Rags end up with that top center. 

    I could see Slats going for Grabovski though.  He loves his Russians.  And Grabovski is also solid defensively (+3 on the Leafs), and versatile (was a winger for a long time) – so I don't think Dubinsky can use that.  I don't know, I think you're overvaluing Dubinsky to make him worth more that package.  To me, it's very likely that Grabovski alone has more impact on a team than Dubinsky, never mind the high pick and good prospect.  The thing is though, that we don't need another flashy, passing, impact forwrard – we need a defense first one.  They need the opposite, so there's definitely something to look at there.

  6. andy_beleafs says:

    Some ideas… what do you think?

    Kaberle (4.25), Grabovski (2.9)
    Clowe (3.625), 2nd, 4th(maybe)
    Morisson $1mil – back up the kids and swap Canucks stories with Burke
    Artyukhin $1 – monster that can skate and surprise with offense
    Finger to the minors (-3.5)
    salary after trade + FA's = $57,704,166 (some wiggle room to play with later)
    Phaneuf – Gunnarsson
    Komisarek – Shenn
    Beauchemin – Lebda
  7. Kramer says:

    I heard Kovalchuk can still go to the Leafs.

  8. cam7777 says:

    I wouldn't include Hanson.  They can just sign Ponikarovsky or Torres if they want a Clowe replacement.  We don't have to sort out the issues for every team in every trade.  No one is going to give us a top six forward AND a Kaberle replacement, so why should we have to address the loss of their players?  Just doesn't make sense.  I know as Leaf fans we have to overcompensate in trades to avoid harsh criticism, but I sometimes think it gets out of hand. 

    Kaberle is a top 10 point producing defensemen, out of the 180 top six defensemen in the league.  Conversely, for the 180 top six forwards in the league, Clowe isn't even in the top 40.  If anything, they should be closing the gaps for us.

  9. nordiques100 says:

    always liked this guy. he does lots of good things. big, can skate, can hit, can score, can kill penalties, win draws. he is a bit overpaid for the role he fills, but, he can help if the fit is right. jersey doesnt suit his game. i think in toronto where speed kills, it would be a good fit.

  10. nordiques100 says:

    for the love of god i will just ask please do not suggest pony or stempniak to the leafs.

    i'd sign mike keane and bring him back to the NHL b4 those two.

  11. Kev_Leafs says:

    Apparently, in the NHL's opinion, they've decided that Kovy's 17 year contract is in violation of the salary cap.

    According to Kypreos – Nhl deems it a "retirement contract", "it artificially drops cap hit", and states to it's too overloaded in the first 10 years.

    I wonder how it really compares to Hossa's and the others…

  12. Kev_Leafs says:

    I believe he was suggesting Pony or Torres to the Sharks – to make up for trading Clowe.

  13. cam7777 says:

    But I should add, you're right, it's possible they simply don't want to part with Dubinsky, even if the price is fair.  I just think he could be had.  I think Slats likes him, but doesn't think he's a crucial piece.

  14. reinjosh says:

    Fair enough. I'm just not a fan. At all Haha. To each his own i guess

  15. cam7777 says:

    I'd never suggest that.  We need guys that can come in and play leadership roles, and also contributue.  Those are complimentary players.  I'm saying though, that they are available for teams like San Jose.  They could trade Kaberle for Clowe and still sign Ponikarovsky to fill in Clowe's spot.  He'd put up 50 points himself, and wasn't too bad at standing in front of the odd net.

    There's tons of options.  We don't need to help other teams sort out their tiny litlte holes.

  16. Kev_Leafs says:

    I just wanted to point out that your 'wiggle room to play with' is $295,834 – which is about half of the league minimum salary. 

    I'm not checking all the numbers – but since you might have forgotten that the Leafs cap this year is 58 (not 59.4 like most other teams) did you include Tucker's buyout as well?

    I don't think SJ needs Grabovski.

    I'd rather leave a roster spot that you've filled with Artyukin or Morrison to go to a young guy we have in the system – Mueller, Irwin, or someone else that impresses in camp.  Otherwise, I'd sign Torres.

  17. reinjosh says:

    And the intrigue deepens. I almost think Dreger suspected. He "clarified" that no deal is technically complete until the NHL agrees to it. Weird little coincidence.

    Hossa or Pronger plus a couple others. It will be interesting to see how this plays out now.

  18. leafy says:

    Highly unlikely, but I like the username.

  19. andy_beleafs says:

    Yes i did include Tucker's $1mil buyout actually. I included Grabaovski because I have a feeling that he might be attached in any Kaberle deal in that any team taking Kaberle will need to take on Grabovski as well (maybe not, just a feeling – I'm just a fan).

    Morisson, I thought, would be a decent veteran presence with playoff experience for a young group of forwards 
    Artyukhin I'll admit is a guilty pleasure he's just a beast, but I do think he would do well if motivated. I agree though, Torres would be a really good fit. I just see him and Armstrong as very similar players with Torres being a little older, heavier, and with a bit more offense.
  20. mojo19 says:


    He's sick. Nickname is "Animal"

  21. mojo19 says:

    Zubrus is good. He's a lot like Antropov but a bit quicker and doesn't quite have the size and hands.

  22. mojo19 says:

    Okay the player I really want for Kaberle now, after looking at Columbus' roster, is Voracek. I like this

    Kaberle, Grabovski
    Voracek, Pahlsson

  23. glotz_99 says:

    hahaha right after I wrote this news comes out the NHL is blocking the Kovy signing for salary cap cir*****vention. I guess they can block ridiculous contracts.

  24. mojo19 says:

    Then sign Artyukhin, done

    Voracek – Bozak – Kessel
    Kulemin – Kadri – Versteeg
    Sjostrom – Pahlsson – Armstrong
    Brown – Artyukhin – Orr

    Mitchell, Caputi, Hanson

    Looking good going into camp

  25. reinjosh says:

    I think we could get a pick with Voracek for Kaberle. I doubt they want Grabovski with Vermetter, Umberger and Brassard too.

  26. Boston_Bruins says:

    Dude is a freight train. Scary size and speed combo.

  27. mojo19 says:

    I like the Grabovski – Pahlsson swap part of the trade though!

    But ya Voracek was picked 7th overall in '07, scored 50 pts last year as a 20 year old, and is 6'1", 200lbs. Looks like he could turn into a real player.

  28. nordiques100 says:

    wow, kovalchuk deal rejected. it does look bad….signed to age 44. i wonder what happens now…

  29. andy_beleafs says:


    Now imagine Artyukhin in a Leafs jersey doing this… but take that and add great speed and a decent set of hands (rarities for a man of his size)
    … from his days in Russia.
  30. Boston_Bruins says:

    The NHL needs to do some major work in those CBA meetings in 2012… I mean the deal was announced yesterday, they had the big press conference today and only now does the NHL go "Hey! Wait a minute…". Is there not cut and dry rules for this? Bad situation.

  31. leafmeister says:


  32. leafit2me says:

    Assuming this trade was made; I'd turn around and ship Semin for a Jordan Staal

  33. mojo19 says:

    Contracts are complicated. The rule is that the NHL has 5 days to review the contract and decide whether or not its okay.

  34. mojo19 says:

    oh ya I've seen that clip. He's definitely got some skill, he would be a great addition. He's also not a side show like Carcillo or Avery. He's a little more quiet, just gets it done in the corners.

  35. reinjosh says:

    Steady increase from first to second year too. I've always liked him.

  36. hockey_lover says:

    Yeah I hear ya.  As much as Sid is a baby sometimes, ya gotta feel for him a little bit. He has buttloads of talent and is constantly playing with a bunch of chumps .. yet still manages 100pt seasons. Its crazy.

  37. nordiques100 says:

    ha i was just being over the top. i wasnt a fan of pony or stemp in their time with the leafs.

    pony drove me nuts cause he just missed waaaaay too many chances.

  38. DannyLeafs says:

    I understand that, I was just using it as a point of reference. People said it would be insane to expect that Columbus could give up the 4th overall for Kaberle, but even last year, Voracek had still made good progress, and definitely did nothing to detract value from the day he was selected 7th, but I think the if Leafs picked him up this year with a 2nd round pick, there is a strong chance that anti-leafs fans would be chirping about how we didn't end up getting anything for Kaberle.

    It also holds true for GM's. People like making high picks, but after the pick is made, sometimes the prospect isn't valued as much as actually making the selection. Look at Carolina's first from last year. I bet people would have thought it was crazy if we had posted proposals before last years draft that had us shipping Tlusty for a late first, and I doubt Carolina would have done that. But just a few short months later, with Paradis having done nothing to decrease his value, that trade happened anyway, and nobody really flinched over it. People can find holes in prospects and tangible assets, but when you refer to the asset by it's time of selection there is nothing bad you can say about it. Picks don't have bad initial strides or attitude problems.

  39. DannyLeafs says:

    I really think he has the potential to be a top line stud. Oddly enough if we got Voracek there would likely be haters talking about how we got an unknown and a nobody, but personally, I think he has more potential then any other single prospect we could get with Kaberle, save possibly Brayden Schenn (I am not saying we could definitely get him, just covering my basis if it was a possibility).

    Voracek is also a very Burkian player. He is big, physical, responsible, willing to pay a price, versatile, skilled, and he just loves to play. Also, he is thus far the next best player to come out of the 2007 draft, and since it is unlikely that that particular draft will only yield one impact player, he is a good bet to become the next impact player from that draft to break out in the NHL.

  40. cam7777 says:

    and dumb penalties…

  41. reinjosh says:

    Yeah he definitely has the potential to be a top line guy. If were dealing with Columbus, this is the guy I want not Filatov or Brassard.

  42. DannyLeafs says:

    Yeah, Columbus has nobody that compares well to Voracek, or even fills their needs as well. Brassard is a center, but adding another unproven smallish center isn't exactly a step in the right direction. Filatov is a goal scorer who may never really be an impact NHL'er. Voracek has always wanted to play here, so much so that he came to play in the Q as a teenager, and he has worked continuously toward that goal. He is already a top calibre winger, and has all the tools any coach could want. Size, speed, skill, and a high hockey IQ.

    My favourite part of his game is that he would be an amazing complimentary winger on Kessel's line. I know he is listed as a RW, but that is simply because Columbus is stronger on the left side, and very shallow on the right.

    Anyway, here is hoping the Leafs can snag a player of this value with Kaberle.

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