Pack Your Bags, Tomas!

Jeff Angus



Tomas Kaberle will be traded at some point over the next few months (if I were a betting man, I'd look for a draft day deal). His no trade clause ceases to exist between the date of the Entry Draft (June 25th) and August 15th, as there is a provision in his current contract that removes the clause if the Leafs missed the playoffs in either 2008-09 or 2009-10.


He and current Maple Leafs head coach Ron Wilson have never been on friendly terms. Wilson likes to use the media to bring attention to poor player performance, and over the course of the past two seasons he has delivered his fair share of biting criticisms aimed at Kaberle. It started in 2008, when Wilson criticised Kaberle for coming into training camp overweight. Near the end of this past season, Wilson again hung Kaberle out to dry in the papers (albeit a bit more subtly this time). After a 3-2 loss to the lowly Atlanta Thrashers, Wilson said, “we talk about how solid our defence is and how well we’re playing and we’ve still got guys who are minus-16 or whatever." Kaberle's plus-minus at the time was… you guessed it, minus-16.


Kaberle won't sign an extension with the Leafs as long as Wilson is around, and Leafs GM Brian Burke knows this. He also knows that Kaberle is far and away his most tradable asset, as there are about a half-dozen teams seriously interested in acquiring him this summer. Which teams are interested in him is not information we are privy to (yet), but looking at the 30 NHL clubs, it isn't too hard to fill in the gaps. There are a few teams out there with cap space, a need for a top-pairing puck mover, and lots of young assets to package up in return.

Kaberle's 2008-09 numbers were down across the board because he missed close to 30 games with hand and concussion issues. His potential numbers in 2010-11 depend a lot on where he ends up. He could remain around the 45-55-point mark, or he could see a jump up to 65-70. His ice time has been cut under Wilson as well, especially on the penalty kill.


The Leafs could potentially view Kaberle as expendable with Dion Phaneuf now around to run the power play. However, puck movers of Kaberle's quality are a rare breed. Unless the Leafs are able to get above-market value for Kaberle (something I don't see happening), they would be better off keeping him and trying to mend the relationship in 2010-11. After Phaneuf, where is the offense on the back end going to come from? Luke Schenn and Mike Komisarek are offensively inept. Carl Gunnarsson has a great shot and skates well, but his offensive instincts are very raw. Francois Beauchemin can shoot the puck as well, but he not a puck mover.