Recent discussions have tempers flaring wildly in Minnesota, while the Maple Leafs look to trade leaves before they fall.
In several local newspapers in Minnesota, there are discussions that the Wild management have had enough with Marion Gaborikâ€™s antics and believe his intentions are to force their hand. It is not a surprise to the ears of the fans and media when the words â€œtradeâ€ and â€œGaborikâ€ are involved in the same sentence as the ongoing negotiations began near the end of last season and have yet to reach any such middle ground.
In the final year of his contract, the 26 year old Slovakian has refused a reported 5 year deal at over $7 Million per season. The Wild were believed to have offered near the $8 Million dollar range but once it was quickly rejected by Gaborikâ€™s camp without blinking an eye, Wild GM Doug Risebrough had walked out of the room frustrated at Gaborikâ€™s lack of leniency.
Gaborik, who netted five goals in a single game last season, has not spoken much to the media about the contract. In fact, in the limited interviews heâ€™s taken on the matter, he has reiterated his hope to stay with the club while his bored tone of voice speaks volumes underneath the words.
Several reports have hinted at almost the entire league having interest in the young sniperâ€™s services, but recently they have toned down to half a dozen teams showing serious signs of interest. The contenders are the Montreal Canadiens, Vancouver Canucks, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Ottawa Senators, and of course the Toronto Maple Leafs. But there appears to be an edge in Torontoâ€™s game plan.
Toronto has been rumored to be actively seeking a first overall pick from the Phoenix Coyotes for the upcoming draft. In fact, such negotiations have been taking place for the last 2 months. Those reports mentioned the likes of Mike Van Ryn or Carlo Colaiacovo along with one of Ian White and Steffan Kronwall going the Coyotesâ€™ way for the first selection.
Minnesota is currently on the lookout for a puck moving defenseman to play alongside Brent Burns on the top unit and as many teams also likely have interest in him, Tomas Kaberleâ€™s name has most certainly come up.
Cliff Fletcherâ€™s abundance of signings on defensemen this offseason makes Kaberle an expendable asset. The lack of depth on the backend across the league is more than apparent and it puts the Leafs in a great position to acquire some picks or prospects by the deadline.
Here is the breakdown of the speculated moves Toronto would like to make over the next month or so.
Toronto would deal Van Ryn or Colaiacovo plus White or Kronwall to Phoenix for their 1st round pick in this yearâ€™s draft. Toronto then shuffles the pick into a package involving Tomas Kaberle to Minnesota for Marion Gaborik. The Leafs would hold onto Pavel Kubina and continue the season with a young group of defensemen leading the way for the Leafs while they follow an offensive charge lead by Gaborik. The Leafs would also still hold their own first rounder for the draft.
On the grand scale of things, the odds of it happening are slim to none. But the reports are there to prove the attempts, and in any case, Cliff Fletcher deserves some credit for giving it a shot. The question is, are Leafs fans ready to wave goodbye to Kaberle, and perhaps more importantly, is Kaberle ready to wave goodbye to the Leafs?
Micheal A. Aldred
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