Connect the Dots?
The Panthers and the Leafs/Kaberle seem compatible for several reasons. One, the Leafs and Panthers seem to be congenial trading partners as evidenced by Cliff Fletcher dumping his crap on Jacques Martin’s lap last deadline. That said, Martin might be pissed about the whole Chad Kilger thing. Sometimes trades don’t work out as you envision… the player gets injured, can’t find chemistry with his teammates and has little to no impact… or literally never shows up. Try that one, Burke.
Two, the Florida Panthers are in a proper pickle with their most valuable asset, Jay Bouwmeester. Florida appear to finally be ready to make a serious go at the playoffs this season for the first time in recent recollection. JayBo, or a player of similar ilk, plays an integral role in any Stanley Cup aspirations not only this year but also down the road, if the Cats hope to remain competitive for an extended period of time. Executing a trade of this magnitude makes a strong statement of intent and might influence Bouwmeester to stick around on a short-term contract. If not, Kaberle, while admittedly less formidable defensively, is a worthy safeguard in case Bouwmeester does have to be moved, be it prior to the deadline (looking less likely) or the draft.
Three, uniting Kaberle and former mate Bryan McCabe certainly has it’s appeal as the pair have serious chemistry on the power-play, where the Panthers have a glaring fault. The Cats rank among the worst in the league on the power-play at a 15.6% success rate. It’s no secret what Kaberle can bring to a power-play unit, and re-uniting the duo goes great lengths in remedying a shortcoming that doesn’t usually coincide with championship winning teams.
The Panthers own several prospects that one can speculate would be of significant interest to Brian Burke, namely Keaton Ellerby and Shawn Matthias.
Make no mistake, it remains unlikely to me that a GM will step up and meet Burke’s lofty demand by 3 p.m. on Wednesday. And there’s no reason to believe Burke feels any urgency to scale back his asking price with Kaberle’s no-trade clause exemption window looming in the summer. But Martin, with the option of turning and peddling Bouwmeester for a generous return either at the deadline or to a lesser extent at the draft, seems to be among the most eligible to “overpay,” for lack of a better term.
Just something to chew on while we wait, ever less patiently, for the events of the next two days to unfold.