Kaberle Key To Improved Goaltending

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    TORONTO — Leafs general manager, Brian Burke, has repeatedly stated he will not ask Tomas Kaberle to waive his NTC. This situation, however, could be key to shoring up the goaltending the Leafs need.

    Gus Katsaros
    I’ve been openly vocal about my disappointment with the play of Jonas Gustavsson; openly questioned whether he is the Leafs goalie of the future and I’m not convinced he will be the number one fans are expecting. He could top out as a capable back up, or in tandem with an established goaltender.

    Aside from SVT heart issues potentially forcing him to miss games – perhaps even important ones – due to precautionary reasons, there are visual cues that he struggles with some basic components of the position. He needs work, and Francois Allaire will have his hands full. The magician goaltending coach could however see some familiar face in the fold come next season.

    Leafs must solidify the crease before they move ahead.

    It dawned after reading this on Fadoohockey.com by Lyle Richardson, commenting on a potential buyout for J.S. Giguere that he could be one step closer to being a Leaf next season.

    Should the Ducks buy out Giguere who has one yr remaining on his contract that pays $7 million, but with a $6 million cap hit, according to Capgeek, it would look like this.

    2010-2011: $1,333,333
    2011-2012: $2,333,333

    There’s incentive there for the Ducks to be rid of the contract and sign their own Restricted Free Agent, who they view as the goaltender of their future. And that won’t be cheap (4 yr $18 million according to Pierre LeBrun – $10 mill cap hit on goalies doesn’t make sense).

    CULTURE CHANGE

    The tie in to Tomas Kaberle doesn’t involve a trade. On the contrary, respecting the Czech blueliner’s NTC with Burke’s adamant refusal to ask him to waive it is what counts.

    It’s all about good will, attracting available talent and creating an environment to retain homegrown players.

    Burke’s used the example of Giguere in explaining his philosophy on NTC’s and how extenuating circumstances deserved the decency of a player’s control of destiny.

    Two questions: 1) how much will the netminder remember that moment, should the Ducks buy him out and he hits free agency? 2) What’s that loyalty worth in terms of salary structure for a Toronto club who will need space to ink the Monster as an RFA? Not to mention the existing Francois Allaire connection as an additional enticement.

    Justin Pogge

    Former Marlies goaltender, Justin Pogge, recently passed through Toronto as a shootout winner with the San Antonio Rampage, and could step into the Ducks lineup as a back up, giving the Ducks an affordable option, while managing cap space to lock up Jonas Hiller.

    After what I considered Burke striking out in an effort to trade Pogge, essentially giving him away to the Ducks for a conditional draft pick in 2010. A seemingly goodwill gesture towards his old club.

    Could Giguere’s release be the actual return for the Leafs? It’s naïve to think that this scenario was never broached during Burke’s time there. Using that information to achieve his own ends wouldn’t be a first in the NHL.

    Back to Kaberle.

    The case to keep him is complex at best with myriad variables, but the main point here is the treatment of players in clear perception and respected both within and outside the organization; this is one of the most important factors in changing the Leafs culture this season, aside from the on ice product.

    This season was supposed to be about cleansing existing culture and installing the new wave throughout the organization while putting together the foundation for a competitive club in the future. It’s unreasonable to expect a turnaround this quick, and unfair to judge the future movement without filtering through background noise.

    In the end, the ability to attract talent begins with treating assets with respect and creating an hospitable environment to attract free agents, and especially to retain homegrown talent. It’s why Detroit as a destination is such a preference.

    If I’m Brian Burke, I tell Bob Murray, look, we gave you Pogge, for basically nothing (an act of goodwill) and now do the right thing. Buy out Giguere for the betterment of both clubs.

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