Brian Burke wasn’t kidding when he said he likes to move in advance of the NHL trade deadline. The Leafs GM, fresh off of moving Francois Beauchemin and Kris Versteeg, has been reported to be in talks with Boston concerning Czech blueliner Tomas Kaberle. Unfortunately, it seems that Toronto’s own 1st round pick is not involved in discussions at the time, although it is surely a desired target in Burke’s negotiations.
The movement of Kris Versteeg clearly reduces the talent on this team for the near future. Â We will only truly be able to analyze the position of Leafs management (“retool” or “rebuild”) at the conclusion of this season’s trade festivities. Â However, ignoring allegations of player unhappiness, the movement of Versteeg for picks definitively falls under the ambit of a rebuild. Â While there are good points to be made with respect to Versteeg’s salary and his ambiguous role with relation to the “top six, bottom six” mentality, there is no denying that he is an asset on any NHL team. Â He is also one of those players that gives true meaning to the concept of “team depth”, as he is effective in a third line role, with the potential to fill in admirably on a higher line if needed. Â Yet it should be repeated that until Brian Burke’s plans are revealed in full, one cannot conclusively make a statement about this trade.
The news that Tomas Kaberle appears willing to waive his infamous NTC to go to the Bruins could be the decisive move in indicating the path that Leafs management is taking, contingent upon the return that Toronto receives. Â While TFP is reporting that the Leafs‘ 1st is not currently involved in these discussions, it would be remiss of Burke not to target this asset in his talks. Â If Toronto does somehow manage to regain their pick, it would almost surely signal a concerted movement from retooling to a full out rebuild. Â The latest news on the Twitterverse is a mishmash of reports varying in their comments on the proximity of this deal. Â The MLHS take is that Tomas Kaberle has finally decided he would go to the Bruins if a deal can be reached, but he has not yet waived as a trade is not imminent.
Despite the ongoing conversation between the two opponents, Kaberle seems ready to draw into a lineup that will once again feature James Reimer in goal. Â Tim Thomas will backstop a Bruins team that is fresh off of two significant losses against the Detroit Red Wings. Â For the Leafs, the Grabovski line has been reunited, and Joffrey Lupul will hit the ice alongside Bozak and Kessel. Â With the trade of Versteeg and Colby Armstrong’s injury, Hanson will suit up on the third line with Boyce and Sjostrom. Â Those that still harbour playoff aspirations should note that the Leafs need roughly a 19-7 mark to be in the mix for that eighth spot. Â Obviously, they cannot afford too many more losses. Â A matchup against Thomas and the frustrated Bruins will be a difficult test for this rapidly-changing team.