Pat Hickey: Spacek-Kaberle trade boggles the mind

I don’t get it.

The Canadiens swapped defenceman Jaroslav Spacek Friday for Carolina’s Tomas Kaberle in a deal that doesn’t make sense on any level.

The most important consideration should be what Kaberle brings to the rink, and the Canadiens are hoping the defenceman injects some life into one of the worst power plays in the National Hockey League.

Coach Jacques Martin noted Friday that the Canadiens need someone to distribute the puck, and Friday’s trade was an admission the club can no longer wait for Andrei Markov to be healthy.

But there are two problems with this thinking.

The first is that the lack of a quarterback may not be the biggest problem facing the power play. The Canadiens do not need someone who can carry the puck into the offensive zone so they don’t have to dump and chase, but Markov has been out of the lineup for most of the past two seasons and the power play had been among the best in the NHL without him.

That’s because Montreal has had shooters who can get the puck to the net. Over the years, the Canadiens could count on Sheldon Souray, Mark Streit, Marc-AndrĂ© Bergeron and James Wisniewski. Last season, the Canadiens’ power play was in the bottom third of the league, but it climbed to No. 3 after Wisniewski was acquired over the Christmas holidays.

The other problem is that even if the Canadiens need a distributor, you have to question whether Kaberle is the guy. He was once an all-star on the strength of his contribution to the power play in Toronto, but there are signs his skills have diminished. The Carolina power play is only slightly better than Montreal’s, and only four of Kaberle’s nine assists this season have come on the power play. He has one goal and 29 assists in his last 78 games with Toronto, Boston and Carolina.

Kaberle has been a disappointment in his last two stops in the NHL.

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