This is my first blog with Hockeybuzz and I'm choosing to speculate on a topic which has been discussed for several years now, that being the eventual departure of long time Maple Leaf Tomas Kaberle.
I write eventual departure because I do believe that come the August 15th deadline, before Kaberle's no-trade clause comes back into effect, he will be moved. Never in the three years of rumours surrounding Kaberle has the event of a trade felt so real. I get the feeling that Burke already has a deal set in place and is dragging this out until the eleventh hour hoping a team in a last ditch effort will up the ante one more time. If there's anything I've learnt from watching Burke is he plays his cards close to his chest and in situations such as this he knows how to work the media and never reveals what's going on behind the curtains.
Many Leaf fans, including myself, get discouraged when Burke reiterates that he will keep the player if he doesn't get what he's looking for. Basically its a smokescreen used to drive the asking price up in a UFA starving of defencemen with the same talent level of Kaberle. Burke knows Kaberle is his one big expendable chip left that can ideally bring another top 6 forward to the team. With the offers now said to be in the double digits it seems farfetched to think that Burke can't find one offer that he can live with. After the Brett Lebda signing on July 7th in addition to the recent rumours of the numerous offers I have no reason to believe that Kaberle will be in a Leaf uniform come September.
Although it will be a sad day to see such a classy player leave Toronto, it's the best thing the organization can do to address it's immediate need for scoring. Not only will moving Kaberle bring in a top 6 forward, but it will see the last player of the "Muskoka Five" leave, ridding the team of the John Ferguson Jr. era once and for all. I found it interesting reading up on the Muskoka Five to find out that if Kaberle isn't moved and is left to walk in free agency, Toronto will have nothing to show from those players. Darcy Tucker was bought out, Bryan McCabe was traded for a now retired Mike Van Ryn, Pavel Kubina was traded for Garnet Exelby (now back with the Thrashers) and possibly the biggest chip we had to rebuild in Mats Sundin who left for nothing. It would be a small victory for a team known to have bad luck if Kaberle could be moved and have something to show for it in the future.
Now, Burke as I remember back in June was said to be looking for a top 6 forward and a prospect and/or draft pick for Tomas' services. I recently read a tweet stating Burke has turned down an offer from San Jose for Ryane Clowe and their 1st round pick in 2011. Personally I feel that's a great deal for Toronto and a good fit. Clowe fits the Burke mold, has shown he is a big time player in the playoffs and Toronto would retain the 1st round pick they lost in the Phil Kessel deal. This is the best deal, I've heard of, that Burke has on the table and if he turned this offer down you have to wonder what other offers he has if Clowe and a 1st won't do it.
Kaberle's agent Rick Curran is apparently upset with Burke and the way the situation is being handled, which if I were to speculate means Burke is looking at a team in the Western Conference. Kaberle has made it known he wants to stay in the Eastern Conference but it seems the majority of the serious offers are coming from the Western Conference. Burke is known to be very respectful and loyal to his players and I can't blame him if he trades Tomas to the West knowing full well his desire to stay in the East. At the end of the day Burke was brought in to right the ship in Toronto and thus far he's doing that job. If it means moving Kaberle to the West to improve his team he will not hesitate to do it.
With only four days remaining until the deadline to trade Kaberle there will be plenty of rumours and I will be watching the situation very closely much like any other Leaf fan. Here's hoping to a deal getting done and a return of equal or greater talent to the rumoured San Jose deal coming back.
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