These last few days have been interesting, especially in regards to what Brian Burke has said about Tomas Kaberle.
In a very good interview with Steve Kouleas on the Score he said a few really key things that us Leafs fan were wondering about since Brian Burke took over.
He tackled all the talk about him not liking Europeans which he said was completely not true, "It's silly."
he said, "I don't care where they're born, I don't care what colour their passport is as long as they can play"
He pointed out he did take two top three picks and draft a pair of Swedish brothers..
On the point of our prized blue-chipper Justin Pogge he said that he would definitely get a shot with the Leafs this year.
When asked about No Trade Clauses in player contracts, which has been a topic of discussion for Leafs fans, he said that those players who have NTC clauses in their contracts, have earned their NTC. He said he will not ask Tomas Kaberle to waive his NTC, but if Kaberle came to ask him for a trade, that would be a different story. Then he was asked if it would be fair to say that any player aside from Luke Schenn would be available for trade he said,
"Yes, other than guys with NTC's, I would say that's fairly accurate."
When asked if he had any interest in Sean Avery he said simply, "None."
Which isn't all too surprising.
He also said he
thinks, from what Mats Sundin has told him, that Sundin has played his last game as a Maple Leaf.
He did agree that the team needed to kind of stockpile in draft picks for the next few drafts. Burke said that this upcoming draft was very deep and that a lottery pick would be great. He said that Cliff Fletcher's done a great job moving picks for impact players, and that he would do the but:
"We don't have any picks in the next we drafts, we've been stripped of picks to make that progress. We need to get picks back."
This is very promising.
It was a really good interview, lasted about 25 minutes. I know that he said he wouldn't ask a player to waive his NTC, but I wouldn't take that for what it means exactly.
I mean he could very well be saying what he means and Tomas Kaberle could watch his contract expire a Maple Leaf but things with Kaberle are going to get very interesting in the next few months.
There's been a lot of confusion about Kaberle's NTC. Up until a while ago it was believed that his NTC would become nullified this summer. But Howard Berger reported earlier this year that in fact after speaking to Cliff Fletcher his NTC is still effective through this summer, no matter whether the Leafs make the playoffs or not.
Earlier this week he corrected his mistake saying that Fletcher had been misinformed about the whole situation, and if the Leafs failed
to make the playoffs this season, the Leafs would have the right to trade him, and I think this is great.
Kaberle going into the trade deadline will know he will be available at deadline. So it wouldn't be against what Burke said, if he went to Kaberle and said, "look we might explore moving you in the summer." It seems like the kind of thing Burke would do. He tries to fair and honest to his players, he's a player's GM, and in my opinion Kaberle being traded in the summer is a very good possibility. This is what leads me to believe that there is still a good chance that Kaberle is moved at deadline, maybe even Kaberle himself goes and asks for the trade.
Kaberle seemed bitter after being separated from those he's played with so long, and the comments he said at the beginning of the year sounded like he would be open to a trade:
"I don't really want to talk about it -- if I would do this, or do that," he replied. "I love to play for the Leafs, and I hope to play another year in Toronto. If not, I'll move on. But, I'm ready to play here and we'll see what happens."
I don't really think Burke's comments on what a fine player Kaberle is(earlier this week), is what is going to stop him from trading him. For one, just because he's a good player, it doesn't mean he's not going to be traded for the right price. And secondly he does not appear to be fitting into Ron Wilson's system. Time and time again I see Kaberle coughing up the puck at bad times, and giving the other teams opportunities like two on ones. He was never particularly good in his own end but this year he's been worse than normal.
I don't necessarily think he will be traded but, I think it would be key for this team's rebuild if he is. I don't really see him as an integral part of a team that's rebuilding. Freeing him up would open up a spot to someone like Anton Stralman who's struggled this season, arguably from a lack of regular ice time. In the end I do see at least one of Kaberle or Kubina traded for prospects and or draft picks to help speed up this rebuild.
It's getting closer to the deadline and it's very exciting. Nothing won't be happening too soon as Burke's self-imposed trade freeze started last week. The Leafs have plenty of assets, so the probability of us trading for a few draft picks as Burke mentioned is very good, maybe even another 1st round pick(hopefully).
For those who missed the Brian Burke interview, and wanted to watch it, here ya go:
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Thanks for your time.