Kaberle looks like a keeper


Tomas Kaberle is a wanted man. But will it remain that way through the summer?

On Friday, general manager Brian Burke, during a radio interview in Toronto, said he “expected” the veteran defenceman return to the Maple Leafs next season.

On Saturday, coach Ron Wilson echoed the sentiments of his GM.

“Hopefully, he will be back,” Wilson said. “He has a role carrying the puck and on the power play. We have (other guys) who concentrate on the defensive aspect of the game on our blue line.”

Kaberle has one more season remaining on his contract, which pays him a cap-friendly annual salary of $4.25 million US. He does have a no-trade clause, of course, one that becomes moot from the June draft through Aug. 15.

During the 2009 draft in Montreal, Burke thought he had all but traded Kaberle to the Boston Bruins for Phil Kessel, only to see the deal fall apart.

Then, at the deadline earlier this month, Kaberle’s handlers informed Burke of three teams their client would be willing to move to. In exploring potential deals, Burke did not end up finding a suitable fit, leaving Kaberle to finish the season as a Leaf.

Maybe Kaberle is a desired fit in Burke’s 2010-11 blueprint. But, in the event Burke is blown away by an offer for the veteran this summer, it will be interesting to see if he pulls the trigger.

Kaberle entered Saturday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers having not registered a point in seven games, including all six post-Olympic outings. He finally snapped that drought in the second period, chalking up an assist.