Tomas Kaberle will be traded on March 4th. I guarantee it.
Kaberle, who's dawned the Leafs uniform for a decade, would be wise to waive his no-trade clause at the NHL Trade Deadline. This would allow him to control his fate, rather than have Burke decide it for him when his contract nullifies his NTC in the off-season due to the Leafs' failure to make the post-season this year.
While the Trade Deadline will limit Burke's options for potential suitors for Kaberle, his 4.25M cap-hit will make #15 a hot commodity for GM's looking for a puck-moving defenseman. While Burke has made it perfectly clear that it would take a significant offer for him to ask Kaberle to waive his NTC - a 1st round-pick, a roster player and a prospect to be exact - the desperation of GM's looking to bolster their line-up makes that asking price realistic - and by god, is it good to be a seller!
Reports have been circulating that Kaberle has given Burke a list of 10 teams he'd be willing to play for, but Burke shot down the reports, stating that Kaberle "has not given me a list of 10 teams he'd like to be trade to." While this is somewhat concerning for those hoping Kaberle is no longer a Leaf by March 4th, I don't think this will prove to be too much of a problem if GM's come a knockin' on Burke's door. Kaberle's intentions may be to stay in Toronto, but if a team, most likely a contender, decides to give in to Burke's demands, you can bet Kaberle will be aware of the benefactors for not only himself, but the team he's been serving so long. I found this quote particularly interesting:
"I want this clear, Tomas Kaberle made it clear to me, right to my face, 'I don't want to go anywhere else, I want to be a Toronto Maple Leaf'," Burke said. "He believes we'll get it turned around. He loves the city, wants to be part of the turnaround." (TheFourthPeriod)
While I admire Kaberle's passion for the Blue and White, this seems like the Mats Sundin dilemma all over again. Considering Burke's asking price, Kaberle must be aware of the talent and youth he'd import to the Leafs' youth cupboard by departing the team. Kaberle's contract prolongs to the 2010-11 season, so he'd be seperated from the Leafs for one season before becoming a UFA. Kaberle made it clear that he "wants to be part of the turnaround," but realistically, the Leafs won't start to rise in the Eastern Conference standings until atleast the 2011-12 season, when the youth they hopefully acquire begin to establish their roles for the Leafs' future. With that said, if Kaberle feels as strongly for the Leafs as he seems to suggest, then he should realize how much his departure would benefit the line-up, ensuring him a stronger club if he decides to return in the summer of 2011.
So basically, Kaberle, you have to choose. The red pill, which ensures you to play out the 2008-09 season, or the blue pill, which sends you to another team, bringing in loads of the talent to the Leafs' roster, and giving you the opportunity to come back a year later.
The choice is yours... (THE BLUE PILL! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!)