We all understand that Brian Burke plays the media as often as he can, and they willingly deliver his messages (each reporter seems to report as though they’re getting a scoop, when Burke and his people are simply sending everyone variations on the same message) but, whatever.
I’ll post more about Kaberle on Monday, but this deal, as fans well know, has been on the burner for years. Whatever they may contend publicly, Burke and
wanted him gone long ago. For the record, I'm not among those that did. However, as I’ve written here many times, especially over the past year, when you know you’re not wanted, it’s best to go somewhere where you will be appreciated. Wilson
That has finally happened.
In brief, the seeming benefits to the Leafs include:
- Significant cap space available with Beauchemin, Versteeg and Kabby now gone.
- They have stockpiled another couple of draft choices by moving Kaberle.
- They now have two (albeit not lottery-type) first-rounders this June.
- They now have a host of previous number one picks in the system—including Gardiner and Colborne.
- The two first-rounders can potentially be parlayed into a higher first round pick.
- From management’s perspective, Kaberle was part of the dreaded “blue and white disease”
There are risks for the Bruins, sure. Given their playoff track record, they may well lose early this spring and will have given up essentially two prospects (a recent number one and a number one this coming June) for a guy who could be gone in free agency in July. My instincts, though, suggest Kaberle’s agent, Bobby Orr, while no doubt longing for one final big contract for Tomas, may have already agreed in principle to a contract extension for Kaberle. As much as we seem to want to credit Burke all the time, other GM's didn't just wake up. Chiarelli has reasons for what he's doing, too.
The Leafs lose more than they probably want to consider. No one is irreplaceable and Kaberle certainly isn’t. But what he did bring to the team will be missed. We shouldn’t kid ourselves.
My thought now, though, is: what other big move is pending that we haven’t heard about yet, the one that Burke hasn’t tipped his hand about?
Last year the Kessel deal had been in play and talked about openly for a long time. The Phaneuf/Aulie reade came out of nowhere for most fans and even media. (I wonder, by the way, if someday that will be known as the Aulie deal?)
So now I wonder, is there another major shoe to drop before February 28—one that will impact the team right now? Or is Burke just clearing cap space for July free agency?
At the end of the day, what he has done so far (Beauchemin, Kaberle, Versteeg gone…Lupul, picks and
Prospects—albeit former top choices, yes—in return) does nothing to make the team better right now.
Scanning radio talk shows Friday, people of course had a wide range of views on Kaberle and the deal. Some people were suggesting that the Leafs have been better since trading Beauchemin and Versteeg, stressing that they have won a couple of games without them this week on the road. Well, it sometimes happens when organizations appear to have given up on the season, then the team responds by playing better and fans wonder, hey, maybe we’re better without those guys.
However it’s (a couple of games) way too small a sample size to make that kind of judgment, just as we can't possibly assess the impact of this or almost any trade for a long while.
This much we know, however. This is now a full-scale re-build, no matter how it has been framed for public consumption. Other than Lupul (and the jury is out as to whether that was a case of a contract
had to take back, or if he will be a significant contributor), we have nothing to show at the moment for all this movement. Toronto
But next season and beyond….better days ahead?
It never hurts to be hopeful, I suppose.