Kovalchuk ruling hurts Leafs’ chances of moving Kaberle

If the Ilya Kovalchuk mess was clogging up the NHL shipping lanes and making it more difficult for the Maple Leafs to move Tomas Kaberle, Brian Burke had reason to hope Tuesday would see both a clarified marketplace and new offers for the veteran blueliner.

Instead, the stunning decision by arbitrator Richard Bloch on Monday to reject Kovalchuk’s wildly front-loaded, 17-year contract with the New Jersey Devils on the grounds it blatantly cir*****vented the league’s salary cap system muddied the waters and made Burke’s job a little tougher.

That’s not to say there aren’t any suitors for Kaberle. There are, although none have yet stepped up with the kind of offer that Burke is hoping to see before the blueliner’s no-trade clause kicks in again at midnight on Sunday.

But having Kovalchuk made a free agent for the second time this summer means the Devils will be occupied with trying to re-work the contract, and there had been some suggestions that if they’d been unable to sign the 27-year-old Russian that GM Lou Lamoriello could have been motivated to take a run at Kaberle to add offence at the back end.

Los Angeles, meanwhile, may also take another shot at Kovalchuk after failing to get his name on a 15-year, $80 million (all figures U.S.) deal earlier this summer. The Kings were another team that could be a fit for Kaberle, so they might be busy elsewhere for a while.

Beyond that, the Kovalchuk ruling adds another wrinkle to a curious summer in the business of the NHL, one that has included the Stanley Cup champions walking away from a salary arbitration award to the goalie that delivered that NHL title.


82 Responses to Kovalchuk ruling hurts Leafs’ chances of moving Kaberle

  1. DannyLeafs says:

    Yeah, but to be fair, that is something that needs to be learned, and it is hard to learn something on the job with no mentor in a high pressure market. He could do well, and become a good GM if he starts in a smaller organization with less of an emphasis on improving through trades and signings, and as long as he has an experienced adviser to help him.

  2. mojo19 says:

    Agreed. JFJ was good at drafting and terrible at trading and contract negotiations.

  3. 93killer93 says:

    i would think a team like florida would have been a good fit for him. Small market rebuilding.

  4. mojo19 says:

    Well, I like Belanger. I would sign him and move Grabovski, and then if you could sign Kennedy for around $600K I would let Hanson go, who will be seeking close to double that.

    Belanger and Kennedy for under $2 million total
    Grabovski and Hanson for around $4 million total

    I don’t think one pair is significantly better than the other so you might as well save a couple of bucks.

  5. mojo19 says:

    On the other hand Hanson is 6'4" and has 9 pts in 36 career games
    Kennedy is only 5'10" and has 26 career points in a full season. Very comparible but I prefer Hanson's size.

  6. glotz_99 says:

    I think Tim Kennedy would be a great pick up, especially if you could sign him to a 2 way deal, even if he is bit on the small side. There isn't really any room for him on the roster now, but I could see a couple players being thrown into a Kaberle deal, such as Christian Hanson, John Mitchell, Grabovski.  The Canadiens had a real small team last year, and totally exceeded everyone's expectations, so I wouldn't mind Burke sticking it to the Sabres by scooping up one of their young prospects (24 yrs old) for nothing.

  7. mojo19 says:

    Kennedy also had 3 pts in 6 playoff games which is pretty impressive.

    I like him, I wouldn't mind signing him for cheap. Guys like Sjostrom, Mitchell, Caputi are all great cap hits, and Kennedy could be another one.

  8. NonLeafFansAreGay says:

    To Toronto: 

    James Neal, Brad Richards, 6th round pick 
    To Dallas: 
    Tomas Kaberle, Mikhail Grabovski, Jeff Finger, Mike Brown 
    i would love this!!!
  9. Leafs_the_word says:

    Not sure on the contracts, the lift of the NTC/NMC if we missed the playoffs was pretty savvy on his part.  We've been bragging about Kaberle's contract for years, he was able to Sundin locked to good numbers, Antropov at two was a steal and Poni was solid at two. 

    JFJ's problem IMO was that he buckled under pressure.  If he had room to breathe I think he could have been a great GM for a traditional type of rebuild through the draft. 

    Unfortunately he made too many panic deals.

    Oh, and he liked Steen too much.

  10. Leafs_the_word says:

    Spector said that Chiarelli is already helping facilitate the league's investigation of Savard, which strikes me as distastefully opportunistic.

    I think Philly is the one team that would flip over this given they invested two draft picks into Pronger and gave away Gagne to manage their cap.

    Hossa and Luongo would be interesting from a player's perceptive.  Perhaps Luongo is fed up with Vancouver and would like to walk and Hossa has his cup he could look to cash in elsewhere with a bigger hit.

    It's a bizzarre situation that no one can really get their heads around yet.

  11. mojo19 says:

    That's true, but I always hated McCabe's contract.

    Buying out Belfour, to trade a top prospect for Raycroft (only to have Belfour post better numbers in Florida than Raycrofts numbers in Toronto)… Not a contract thing but I think we can all agree this was the worst thing he ever did. Then moved a 1st for Toskala the next year!

    5 years $15 million for Darcy Tucker… still paying for that one. That is terrible negotiation.

    Jason Allison earns over $4 mil for playing 60 games as a Leaf because of the ridiculous bonuses.

    JFJ did make a few good signings and wasn't the worst ever but he handed out more than his share of bad deals.

  12. Leafs_the_word says:

    Tucker was 4 years at 12 million with a NTC. Tucker had more offensive upside and was more of a tenacious pest than Armstrong will be.

    JFJ was crushed under the Nolan situation coming out of the lockout and missed out of the fantasy draft atmosphere.  He started behind the eight ball and management forced him to keep playing a game he couldn't win.

    He always look so damn tense and joyless.

  13. reinjosh says:

    If thats true, Chiarelli will go down as one of the biggest slimes in the league in my books. Everything he has done this offseason just points to him being a complete prick.

    Philly would be pissed if that happened. Not only did they invest alot in him, but he is such a crucial part to the team that if he leaves he takes a chunk of their playoff chances with him.

  14. reinjosh says:

    I'm not going to lie, I'm not a big fan of the only Canadians or Americans approach. While I can completely understand going mainly after them, I just can't justify not picking anyone else. After last years draft I was a little concerned but this year the Olden and Greenberg picks assuaged my fears.

    And some scouts went so far as to say that Ross played a far bigger part on that line than most gave him credit for. I think they even went so far as to say his play was a big reason why those two were top 10 picks.

  15. reinjosh says:

    I almost hope that Burke just leaves a top 6 spot open to allow guys like Hanson, Muller, Caputi or D'Amigo to fight for it, of course assuming Kaberle isn't traded.

  16. reinjosh says:

    Have him become and assistant and he could do some really good things. As Cam said a couple days ago, JFJ's tenure was about poor asset management and not poor drafting. He gets crucified here although players like Stalberg, Gunnarson, Kulemin have helped us some way or another.

  17. reinjosh says:

    Good point. I hadn't even thought about some of those points. It can also be mentioned that not only did he have massive pressure but the upper management kept stepping in (rumored anyways). That creates some bad issues and problems. The guy has talent and for all the crap he took here, I hope he gets a shot somewhere, even just as an assistant.

  18. reinjosh says:

    Hanson just has to much potential to not take over Kennedy. Even if we toss Hanson into a trade like glotz_99 suggested, I can't see Burke taking a potential rookie spot away from guys like Caputi, Ryan, Irwin or Dale Mitchell.

    I think the only position Burke signs for in the bottom six is a third line center. Like the rumored Belanger contract. In fact, I think that this is the only position Burke is planning on signing, even without a Kaberle trade.

  19. cam7777 says:

    Apparently the Belanger stuff is BS, according to Burke. 

  20. reinjosh says:

    Well I still think that if Burkes signs someone else, its only going to be a third line center. I guess he might go after a top 6 guy if a Kabby trade falls through.

  21. Leafs_the_word says:

    It was a tough call, he was on a short leash so he had to produce short term which forced his hand on some desperate moves and the alternative would have been give him an extension even though no one (fans, media or ownership) had faith in him to build long term.  He was in a bad situation that kept escalating.

    I know I harp the term 'half measures' but that was JFJ's calling card because he was stuck in a bad situation, not because he was necessarily a terrible GM.

  22. HABSSTAR says:

    The CBA probably has some clause in it that any contract found in violation of the CBA will be voided.  That's what's being used to void this contract.  Of course it's never that simple with legal do*****ents, everyone has a different interpretation of the wording.  Just that the NHL got to act on their interpretation.  If the NHLPA doesn't appeal this ruling then they're toast.  It will be defacto admitting that the NHL's interpretation is correct and it leaves a huge hammer in the hands of the owners for further contracts and the next round of collective bargaining.

  23. mojo19 says:

    Buying out Belfour to trade a top prospect (also happened to be a goalie) for a lesser goalie was bad judgement even if he was feeling heat from ownership. That Rask trade will be the thing we remember JFJ for, and for good reason. The Toskala trade was just another miserable fail and if you wanna blame the Teachers of Ontario for that one, fine. I still say this guy was a dope, maybe not the worst GM ever but even given his alleged situation with the owners he still did worse than he could have.

    Suglobov, Pohl, Battaglia, and Devereaux were all AHL players who were asked to be 2nd and 3rd liners, some of them even got playing time with Mats. Come on!

  24. mojo19 says:

    I hear you reinjosh, and given their size I'd prefer Hanson over Kennedy. However, I think like you said, they both have about equal calibre, and if Hanson is gonna cost us $1.2 million and Kennedy could be had for half that, then take the cheaper guy. Neither one is going to be any kind of star anyways so save a couple bucks.

  25. mojo19 says:

    I really wouldn't mind adding a gritty NHL veteran up front. Especially one who could come in for under $2 million. Or even just a veteran who could maybe play on the top 2 lines and bring a bit of stability and leadership. Any of these guys would be a nice addition:

    Paul Kariya
    Raffi Torres
    Jeff Halpern
    Eric Belanger
    Brendan Morrison
    Jason Williams
    Mike Comrie
    Evgeny Artyukhin
    Max Afinogenov
    Richard Park

    Not that Burke would be interested in this guy but I was amazed at the play of Miroslav Satan in the playoffs. Overall he was Boston's best forward and he scored some clutch goals and made some key plays. I would love to see him come in cheap but again, he is not a Burke type guy at all.

    Really I don't mind signing 1 more vet, even if it means that only 1 of Caputi or Irwin can make the team. I don't think we NEED an entire team of 23 year olds, and having a veteran, whether its a scorer or checker, would be a good thing for this team.

  26. mojo19 says:

    Just for the record I'm not in love with Miro Satan but I would give him 3rd line ice time plus 1st unit PP time. Face it, the guy has the hands around the net, he knows how to finish. He'd also be a great shootout specialist to have on the bench, even if he only played 10 minutes that particular night. And we have never been good at shootouts since they've been a part of the game.

  27. MystifoLeafs says:

    cam7777 I don't know what it is but i always love reading your posts about possible trades, Maybe its because their not completely insane but Yeah I agree that we should shop semin for Schenn just for the fact is I can't picture us resigning him plus the fact we need to lock up Luke, (also the fact is we have Luke and Brayden on the same team maybe we can get a discount on signing him to help him stay with his bro.) 

    If this was to happen I would enjoy watching the leafs then, It would be interesting to see if they could work together.
  28. Leafs_the_word says:

    Yep, we should have a glut of cheap veterans to grind in the bottom six.  I'd love Belanger, Park, Torres, not so much Afinogenov, Comrie and Morrison who are more busted top sixers.  Responsible two way players that will commit to their role shouldn't cost much.

  29. cam7777 says:

    I wouldn't mind some of those guys – Kariya, Torres, Belanger, Morrison and maybe Artyukin.  No thanks to the others though.  Afinogenov wouldn't be bad, but he signed an expensive 5 year deal in the KHL.

  30. mojo19 says:

    No love for Jason Williams?

    2010 – GP 44, PTS 15
    2009 – GP 80, PTS 47
    2008 – GP 43, PTS 36
    2007 – GP 78, PTS 32
    2006 – GP 80, PTS 58
    post lockout totals………
    ……….GP 235, G 74, A 114, PTS 188

    Good numbers and pretty consistant guy.

  31. DannyLeafs says:

    He did make some decent deals, and I don't think the Tucker Contract was as bad as the buyout is now making it. That buyout by Fletcher was just boneheaded. Easy rule of thumb for a buyout is, will the player be worth anywhere near two thirds of their current salary? if they are, then why buy them out? I would rather have paid the extra 2 million a year and played Tucker on the 4th line until it ran out this year then have to continue paying 1 million for nothing. I mean seriously, chances are all that cap space would have cost is was Fletcher's ability to go out and sign Finger. If we could get rid of the buy out and Finger and instead have Tucker make 3 million going into the final year of his contract this year then which would be better. Seems pretty obvious now.

    I think JFJ did a good job with a couple of contracts, but some of them were just horrendous. McCabe's was awful, signing Kubina to a 5 million per year deal didn't make much sense since he really needed to be on the top PP unit and top pairing to be fully effective, which wasn't going to happen with McCabe and Kaberle already there, so it was a contract that was surely going to be an overpayment, and signing Toskala to a 4 million dollar per year extension before he ever played a game with the team was just insane.

    I do like the dropped NTC clauses he had if the team didn't make the playoffs. That was pretty inventive. All in all he was a smart man that could spot talent, but a very inexperienced GM that didn't have the balls to do things his own way and bucked under pressure from the ownership.

  32. Leafs_the_word says:

    My first impression when he was hired was that MSLE was reacting to our reputation of having a rather conservative GM in Quinn.  JFJ was supposed to be the GM that was proactive at the deadline, could pull the trigger on trade, land UFAs and spot good young talent. I don't think what was expected of him suited the post lockout landscape. As you mentioned he finally landed those big defensemen in Kubina, solidified McCabe and Gill.  Bringing in big slug centers in Lindros, Allison and thinking Mats was a player to build a franchise around.

Leave a Reply