An Insider’s Opinion on Keeping Kaberle

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    “Burke loves the guy…very low maintenance.  It’s obvious this is not going to be a slow rebuild.  Burke is too competitive.  He believes his chances to make the playoffs are very good and wants to win now.  Rumblings are that Kabs was very overvalued.  He’s talented but not a game changer like Pronger, etc. Teams believed he would be a nice asset but not the franchise type guy who would put a club over the top… plus he had a bad year last season.  The best deal Burke was offered was a touted prospect (Jakub Voracek) plus maybe a second round pick.

    I believe this is the paradox of Burke’s tenure so far: some good moves but some questionable ones as well (The Antropov return, not trading Kaberle). Nik Antropov signed for $4m per…is that a guy who was only worth a low 2nd? Doesn’t this seem eerily reminiscent of the way Quinn ran the club?  Overvaluing assets, trying to be in the playoff mix with the philosophy “you never know what can happen when you get there,” but you’re never good enough to actually win it? In my opinion, this was a huge blunder because the Leafs need organizational depth and up front talent. How is Kabs realistically going to help this team win if, frankly, hes got no one to pass the puck to on the powerplay anyway? And honestly, when he had way more talent to work with on previous Leaf teams he never helped them win anyway… he was abysmal in some of those playoff series (i.e Flyers) a few years back etc… A Voracek-plus package would have been a very solid return. This reeks of the two sided Brian Burke – trying to build while trying to win now.”

    It is one thing to say that Burke was right in holding out for what his idea is of fair value, but a whole other if there wasn’t a single GM even in the same stratosphere when it came to appraising Kaberle. However, I don’t think Burke necessarily now finds himself in disadvantageous position. At the very least, Burke knows he has a very capable puck-mover that can aid his club’s transitional game for the next season and, if healthy, is a seeming lock for 40-50 points. Undoubtedly, he will play a key role if the Leafs are to make the playoffs this year. In this regard, Burke might actually find himself in a win-win, where he either qualifies for the playoffs – posing a valuable building block for further contention next season – or the Leafs fall short and he has another window of NTC negation next summer. By that point, Kaberle will have, with any luck, been healthy for a full season and rebounded with a relative return to form (and perhaps Burke’s theory of a tougher Leafs’ blue line granting Kaberle more of a license will ring true). Burke will also have set a clear-as-day precedent as to what he thinks of Kaberle as an asset. Burke can sit down then and contemplate a few factors: a) is market value now at least sufficient? b) what will it take to re-sign Kaberle? and c) how competitive will we be this year (2010-11)? For these reasons, I think Burke was probably very right in not rushing a decision.

    The same source also noted that Mike Van Ryn is likely on the outs a few games into the preseason if and when he proves his health is up to par.

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