Kaberle trade talk heats up

Leafs say, ‘Let the bidding begin’

Think of it in terms of real estate. Your house is your most valuable asset, one that is appreciating nicely as the market heats up.

You are days away from accepting offers and the bidders are motivated.

You never were going to give the property away, but suddenly you may have found yourself in a sellers’ market and maybe — just maybe — value is on your side.

Leafs GM Brian Burke is a vendor at heart, a man who has shown throughout his career in NHL management that he lives for the big deal. And even with a modest portfolio to work with, he’s ready to make his latest splash.

His no-movement clause doesn’t vanish until Friday evening, but the Tomas Kaberle open-house is well underway.

By the time the entry draft begins in Los Angeles and Burke can officially move the veteran puck-moving defenceman, the potential suitors may reach double digits. And unless those buyers are low-ballers, the Leafs may finally be able to put the “sold” sign up on a guy who, let’s face it, has been on the market for quite some time.

All along, Burke has maintained that there is no urgency to move Kaberle , that his offensive flair is just too difficult to replace.

That stance makes sense as a bargaining chip, a point of emphasis that the Leafs aren’t going to give him away. But with so many NHL general managers willing to talk, the smart money is that this time Kaberle is as good as gone.

Burke’s protestations aside, there is a sense of urgency now.

If the team is going to at least start to make meaningful progress toward being a playoff contender, it needs help up front. No surprise then, that Burke has been consistent in his message that Kaberle needs to at least bring a forward who can score and some “secondary toughness.”

No surprise either, that Burke doesn’t seem overly concerned about getting a draft pick to give him and his management staff something to do while the first 61 players are selected on Friday night and Saturday afternoon. Of course the perfect offer sheet, one that he would sign back in a heartbeat, would include both a skilled forward and a significant pick to hand over to head scout Dave Morrison.

One of those potential forwards, Nathan Horton , was removed from the trade market Tuesday when Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon shipped him to Boston.

The Bruins, by the way, were able to give up their own first-round pick (13th overall) to help acquire Horton, largely because they own the Leafs’ second overall selection.

Burke can continue to wait for the perfect deal even if it goes beyond the draft. But the danger in playing that version of poker is that other teams who have been kicking tires regarding Kaberle may look elsewhere by then.

By all accounts, GMs around the league are in a much more trade-happy mindset these days than in past summers.

The other incentive of getting something right away for Kaberle , Toronto’s only all-star candidate in recent seasons, is that July 1st isn’t exactly shaping up as a key date in the great Maple Leafs rebuild.


http://www.torontosun.com/sports/hockey/2010/06/23/14486136.html