The Value of McCabe

Brian McCabe is often critisized for many things. Giveaways, a huge contract, poor defensive play, but his value to a hockey team is greatly underapreciated.In a recent Article by Greg Logan on, Logan talks about the Islanders. He says the Islanders need a good defenseman. He talks about the UFA options and then comes to McCabe. He says the Leafs are hoping to dump McCabe wherever they can. He then goes on to say the Isles would be doing the Leafs a favour by taking McCabe, and the Leafs should add a 1st round pick and Matt Stajan. And doesn’t mention anything going the other way.

Is McCabe so bad of a player, that we’d have to add a 1st round pick and Stajan to get rid of him?? Of course he isn’t. Yes, he takes a lot of penalties, Yes, he has a lot of offensive turnovers, Yes he’s paid almost 6 million dollars, BUT one cannot deny that he made great strides in his defensive game last season. Oh, and his offensive game makes up for every mistake.

McCabe had 57 points last year and 68 the year before. So he is quite capable of getting 60 points next season. There is no current Islander who got 60 points last season. Not one. So Logan thinks we should offer a 1st round pick and Stajan just to get rid of a guy who could very well lead your team in Scoring from the blueline??? Did I read this right?

McCabe has ranked in the top 10 in scoring for defensemen in both of the last 2 seasons. And I personally believe he and kaberle are responsible for the leafs ability to have 4 scoring lines. The Leafs had 12 forwards last season with 10 or more goals. When healthy, the 4th line of Kilger-Pohl-Battaglia scored a combined 39 goals. Kilger, Pohl, and Battaglia are good hardworking players, but the big reason they can score so much with such limited ice time is the great feeds they get from the blueline. Trading McCabe would not rid us of an ugly contract, but rid us of the one thing that keeps us in the top 10 in goals for every season.

McCabes 5.75 million dollar cap hit looked ugly last season. However, only one year later its already starting to look good.

Lidstrom 7.6 million 62 points
Chara 7.5 million 43 points
Jovo 6.5 Million 29 points
Redden 6.5 million 36 points
Timonen 6.333 million 55 points
Pronger 6.25 million 59 points
Blake 6 Million 34 points
Rafalski 6 million 55 points
Markov 5.75 million 49 points
McCabe 5.75 million 57 points

He is the 10the highesrt paid defenseman. Of the 9 ahead of him in pay only 2 had more points last season.

I have always felt that the best offensive blueliners always perform better with a strong partner. If we did trade McCabe, kaberle would no longer have a strong PP point man. He would have Kubina who has never even broke 40 points.

McCabe is a dominant offensive player, and I for one would be upset if he got traded. If his contract looks ok in his 2nd year, it’ll look like a steal in his 4th and 5th years.

33 Responses to The Value of McCabe

  1. thehockeyguy says:

    I couldn't agree with you more on this one. I think McCabe is an awsome offensive defenceman and I don't think the leafs blue line would be nearly as good without him.
    To be honest, I don't think the Leafs will ever trade McCabe, I think any team would want his shot at the point, who wouldn't?
    Anyways I agree, keep McCabe and he will work on his defensive skills.

  2. 92-93 says:

    no question if McCabe leaves toronto, there is a hole to fill.

    he is a top-4 defender who can put up big points, is great on the PP, and is not as bad as some think in his own end.

    that being said,

    for someone who plays the big minutes in big games, McCabe DOES make an inordinate amount of mistakes – many of them are very dumb giveaways. and we are talking about the worst kind of giveaways, not just the ones that are a result of being pressured to make a pass or from the forwards not coming back to help.

    His nick is McGiveaway for a reason.

    his contract in terms of its amount and term is reasonable (especially in light of the other contracts that have been signed since). his no-movement clause IS NOT REASONABLE AT ALL and is one of the worst mistakes that JFJ has ever made.

    i wouldnt call McCabe dominant in any sense. just a top-4 D-guy earning top-4 D-guy money, who puts up 50-60 points a  year and can eat up 25 minutes a game (and NO MORE than that).

  3. BLUE_AND_WHITE says:

    the minutes thing is his problem. he needs fewer 5 on 5 minutes. I think guys like Coaiacovo and White can shoulder a few more minutes a game. it makes a big difference. thats another think. NYI would play him 30 minutes, and would find troubles.

  4. 92-93 says:

    well the whole NYI trade thing is overplayed in the first place.

    the leafs would have to take on a larger salary player from their team – like a Brendan Witt (although trading for Trent Hunter seems like a interesting idea considering the arbiter's decision).

    in any case, I think Kubina-Kaberle and Coliacovo-McCabe should be the pairings for now with the latter two getting less than 25 minutes (closer to 20 than 25). it will be scary to watch sometimes though.

    White and Gill are good pair and they should stick together.

    i dont mind the idea of trading McCabe (if he approves it), but there probably has to be some salary coming back the other way AND then the leafs do have to fill a significant hole in a top-4 spot, no question about it, because McCabe IS valuable in a lot of ways.

  5. Pony says:

    McCabe can be dominant, he has proved it before. Maybe it's a lack of hockey sense or maybe he just panics, but his brain cramps are obviously his big set back.

    There's always a handful of games where McCabe plays simple fundemental hockey and I would say he was a dominating defensemen. I can't remember the exact game against Montrea, but I believe he had 3 pts and effectively shut down Kovalev all night, which may not sound like much of a feat but Kovalev was all over the ice that particular game. 

    McCabe has all the skills to be dominant, speed, offensive ability, size, and agressiveness but I find he tries to do too much. Maybe he feels he can make players look foolish like Kaberle? The big Jordan Staal turnover was a prime example, he tried to make a fancy play and got burned for it.

    Paul Maurice echoed these sentiments as well in an interview once that Bryan needs to keep his game simple and when he does he's very effective in both zones. My hope is after another year with Maurice he may realize this and become a smarter player, but it's doubtful.


  6. next_year says:

    I agree with you 100%… McCabe is a scape goat we have to blame someone for a loss so often times because McCabe was the highest paid leaf we blamed him. McCabe is not over paid at all looking at the new contracts handed out this offseason. lets take a look at some of them GP G A P PM +/- Salary Sheldon Souray 81 26 38 64 135 -28 Just over 5 mil Bryan Rafalski 82 4 47 55 34 +4 5yrs 6 mil per Kimmo Timmonen 80 13 42 55 42 +28 6yrs 6.3 per Matthieu Schneider 68 11 41 52 66 +12 2yrs 5.65 per and now Bryan McCabe 82 15 42 57 115 +3 4 years left @ 5.75 mill So looking at those numbers his production is comparable with the numbers of rafalski. he has more points then all those guys up there with the exception of souray but look at his +/-. so i say Mcabe earned his pay check. especially if you consider the fact that for the most part of last season he was playing with coliacovo and was basically carlo's mentor.

  7. leafy says:

    Great article.  You are 100% bang on.  The people who constantly bash McCabe fall into one of 3 categories:

    1) They have forgotten our truly bad defensemen of the past (ie, Cory Cross, AKi Berg, Anders Eriksson, Jyrki Lumme, Alexander Khavanov, etc)

    2) They do not truly understand the game even if they think they do

    3) They are Leaf-haters who are simply jealous and like to bash the Leafs any way possible

    Either way, McCabe is an above average defenseman, irrespective of salary, and does the small things that most people don't even notice, like carry the puck out of danger, control the puck on the poweplay and plays very aggressively in the defensive zone.  He only gets into trouble when he tries to do too much, which is largely caused by excess ice time and the fact that he's talented and he tends to make bold plays that less talented players are afraid to try.  He is a very underappreciated player, no doubt about it.

  8. Hoondog2 says:

    I just got LeafsTV, and i've been watching a lot of games from the last couple of years, and i forgot how good McCabe can be.  He was starting rushes, making great plays, hitting, he was more noticeable than Kaberle.  If McCabe can find the balance of offense, and defense he can be one of the most dominant defenseman in the game right now.  I've always said trade him, but i kind of like the team how it is.

  9. barsmith says:

    Great comment about McCabe. To add to your post he was a + player playing against the other teams big guns. And poor goaltending always makes defensemen look worst then they are. I think McCabe will get 65 points this year and be a + 15. Not bad for a defensemen being paid 9 highest

  10. quick_stick says:

    The reality is offensive defensemen cause give aways.  Watch Jovo or Pronger when they're pressing in the offensive zone.   It happens to them ALL.  McCabe has been unjustly attacked frequently.  But last year, he was not good.  The prior year, McCabe was steady in his own end, and very solid in the offense zone.  If he bounces back this season, then great.  But part of McCabe's skills are greatly enhanced by partnering with Kaberle on the PP.  Kab is a better all around player than McCabe and sees the ice as good as any d-man in the NHL today.  If McCabe ended up being traded to the Isles (for example) then I think you'd see a drop in his goal production.

  11. bernie1parent says:

    the fact of the matter is that you are paying him 5.75 million just to be an offensive producer.  Guys like lidstrom, chara, timonen, pronger and most of those guys on the list are extremely solid defensively, not to mention leadership.  If you were just ranking on offensive production, then yes, hed be a bargain, but thats not what we are going on, its about all around play.

  12. leafmeister says:

    McCabe is a great leader, he is a great goal scorer and is a tiny bit above average defencivly.

  13. habsrock99 says:

    just throwing this out there for Leaf fans but I'm about 75% sure that McCabe has a No Movement Clause which in turn stipulates that McCabe can not be traded, released, put on waivers or demoted. Therefore, if McCabe has a NMC, all these trade McCabe campaigns are pointless and are a waste of space. I may alos be wrong but I was just throwing that out there. Side note, I may hate McCabe and though he is defensively irresponsible, he's the Leafs best offensive Defenceman outside of Kaberle, why would you trade him? To get Peca? Peca's not as valuable as hockey analysts think he is.

  14. flamingsenator says:
    GREAT leader?

    sundin is a great leader, lidstom is, iginla is.

  15. flamingsenator says:

    by saying hes the best offensive guy other than kabby………dont u mean hes number 2…

    i dunno…it just bugged me :p…..

  16. 92-93 says:

    just because someone has a no-movement clause doesnt mean they cannot be moved. i cannot believe that this has to be explained but, there is still a possibility that a trade can occur but it would simply be up to the player. does it make it less likely that a trade occurs? yes. but to make the statement you just made is, well, a little pointless and very ignorant.

  17. MR40 says:

    I totally disagree. I don't think you could be more wrong. You can't compare him to those guys.
    Lidstrom won the Norris, so no arguement there.
    Chara is mainly a defensive defensemen playing on a loussy team with no defense after him.

    Jovo was injured the entire season including when he played, and he played on an awful team.

    Redden had off ice issues with his family, had to make a big change in his style of play, because he had no Chara to help him.

    Timmonen is well, he's just overpaid. and still put up almost the same numbers as McCabe and is WAY better in the other side of the rink.
    Blake is a hard hitting defensemen, with leadership, and wasn't supposed to up big numbers, and put up pretty good numbers for an aging d man with no supporting cast.

    Rafalski has the same salary, puts up the same numbers, but he can play defense.

    Same goes for Markov.

    His offensive mistakes doesn't make up for his awful defense, and you don't want a player with an attitude in your dressing room.

  18. brott says:

    When you think Leafs. Who do you think of first? Sundin and McCabe. They are the face of the leafs. Karby IS better then McCabe overall. but I didn't ask whose the best player on the team. McCabe has leadership and I think hes gonna get the "C" when Sundin Retires. I think hes worth what he gets.

  19. Glucker says:

    that I agree with 100% the old McCabe was good… the 5.75M McCabe hasn't been as good… maybe its the new contract hangover, hopefully thats all it was, and this year he will return to his good old hard hitting, can-opening, high scoring self… he still is high scoring, but his game lost some edge after he got his contract

  20. leaffansareajoke says:

    McCabe worth almost 6 mil a year?  I don't friggin think so.

    Why he's on the PK unit is still beyond me. 

    And he's not a dominant offensive player.  The leafs would be better off if they traded him, even if just for a real defender.

  21. brianc689 says:

    I agree that there are a lot of defensemen out there that are better all around D-men than McCabe, but please take Chara off that list. The guy is the highest paid of them all I believe, and he was horrible on both ends of the ice last year. In Ottawa, he had a good team and players with speed around him. In Boston, he got caught flat-footed so many times and couldn't keep up with any of the players on the ice, and couldn't contribute offensively without the all-stars playing around him.

  22. brianc689 says:

    I'm not going to argue with guys like Lidstrom, Pronger, Niedermeyer, Timonen, etc. because I would much rather have those guys on my team instead of McCabe. However, Chara, Jovo, Redden and Blake are the most overpaid pieces of crap. Chara is pretty much just a PK specialist now because he is too slow for 5 on 5 and Ottawa's team inflated his PP numbers. Jovo, IMO, has always been over-rated offensively and defensively and he's injury prone. Redden, I used to like and I actually wanted the Leafs to let go of McCabe and take a run at Redden last year when they were both UFAs, but after the year he just had, I'm glad they didn't. Blake, he once was a great defensemen, but he is just too old and slow for the new NHL and when his current contract runs out, he should hang 'em up. And McCabe is not "a player with an attitude" as you put it. On the ice, he's always yelling at refs and things like that, agitates the opponents, but he has never been considered a cancer in the dressing room. His teammates like him.

  23. hatterson says:

    McCabe is actually one of the leaders of the Leafs in the dressing room.  He doesn't wear an A becuase he has a big contract, he has it because he's a respected, established guy on the team.

  24. bernie1parent says:

    since when is he a great leader, when has he had to lead for that matter.  You have mats sundin, now thats a leader, like the other guy says.  Tiny bit above average!  He is average at best.  Average defenders are guys that are 5th or 6th defensemen who are either up and coming or just stuck there and not getting better.  McCabe is not a good defender and is a main reason why they give up so many odd man rushes.

  25. bernie1parent says:

    Im pretty sure he put up 43 points, the same amount he put up with the offensive minded ottawa teams.  Now, how many players show any semblance of being good when on a shitty ass team?  Look at hatcher, -24, and he is really solid defensively even though he does get burnt from time to time. 

  26. next_year says:

    McCabe is not going anywhere he has a no movement claus which mean he wants to be here so hes not going to waive it to be traded to anywhere

  27. brianc689 says:

    Hatcher was solid defensively before the lockout, now he is just too slow. Even in the first year after the lockout, when Philly was one of the best teams in the league, he only put up 17 points and was a +2. When he was with the Stars in the pre-lockout days, he was consistently around 25-30 points and one year had a +37. Guys like Chara and Hatcher are just too slow for the league now. They are great down low and on the PK, but they just can not keep up with the pace of the game. So, all I'm saying about Chara is that 7.5 mil is way too much for a guy who is a liability 5 on 5 and whose goal production dropped once he left the likes of Heatley, Alfredsson and Spezza. If I had to choose, I would take McCabe and his 5.75 mil a year.

  28. lukeleim says:

    You're an idiot. He's been a top 10 point producer the past 3 years among defense. Last year he led the defense in scoring for the majority of the season, until he was hurt. He led the league in points for the first 10 games. Made team Canada that year while playing on a poor nhl team. this year he struggled defensively but still produced 50pts.

  29. beatle11 says:

    McCabe is definitely one of the best offensive defensemen in the NHL. However i still don't like that he makes so many defensive mistakes. Plus most of his points are on the poweplay. If the leafs were to trade McCabe they could use Kubina on the first powerplay unit. He has a good shot and although he may not be quite as good offensively as McCabe he still has the capability to score 50 points if given the opportunity. He is also much more responsible defensively. He is definitely a player any team would like to have but not at 5.75 a season.

  30. senators101 says:

    He's on the PK?  I thought he was the one serving all the penalties?

  31. baltic_thunder says:

    P l e a s e .
    Tomas makes Brian who he is. Time to learn some defense Mr. $5.75 million man. He is so John Ferguson's nightmare. He's overpaid by about $1.5-1.75 million. One the leafs depth charts last year I'd rank him 4-5th.

  32. baltic_thunder says:

    Here, here. You're damn right!

  33. mcdivitt says:

    I for one have been on the fence about McCabe.  And, to give my opinion SOME credibility, I do watch 95% of Leafs games and follow various blogs and articles, etc.

    He is a stellar offensive producer – no question.  The PP would certainly hurt without him, and there's no denying that.  But, his brain cramps are hard to watch.  

    Also, sometimes I question his heart.  There are times when he seems to give up on plays when (I think) he clearly has a chance to make a better effort.  Those situations leave me yelling "F*&k you, Bryan McCabe!!", at my TV screen, and calling for his head until the next time he pounds a slapper into the top of the net on the PP.  So, I guess what I'm saying is this guy really instills a lovehate relationship. 

    You are right that his defensive game progressed last year.  And anyone that disagrees didn't watch enough of their games.  I think there were a few BIG giveaways that marred the marked improvement in his overall defensive game, night in, and night out.

    I think you're right on the money when you compare his salaries to Chara, et al (who, I think, is grossly overpaid).  You're also right that his salary will look like a steal in the latter stages of his deal.  By the time he comes up for a new deal, top-flite D-men will be getting $8-9M per year.  At that point B-Mac will be in his mid-30's and passing the prime of his career.  So, I think McCabe bashers need to have a little more foresight in the deal that JFJ has made.  Yes, he threw on a no-trade clause, but, if McCabe's defensive game keeps improving, I don't see how anyone can say he is an unfitting piece to the Leaf puzzle. 

    Maybe I'm being optimistic, but I think he will continue to progress as he gets more and more comfortable with his assigned "value".  And if people will stop booing him (and others on the team), his confidence will only get stronger. 

    By the way, if you're attending a game and you're a TRUE Leaf fan, HOW CAN YOU BOO THEM!!??  I am so embarrassed of Leaf fans when that happens, no matter what is happening on the ice!!  How is this productive for the team??  Can you imagine playing hockey for the team you love and having 20,000 people booing AT YOU!!!  Give it a f*&%$&! rest people!! 

    Obvisouly, I digress…

    Anyways, having said all that, you make excellent points about his value to the team, and make it seem an outlandish idea to trade him away.  So, I think I agree with you!

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