The Clock is ticking. Tomas Kaberle's no trade clause goes back into affect on August 15, 2010. So with just over three weeks remaining in the window allowing the Leafs to trade Kaberle, the question is what will Brian Burke do?
Just like a trade deadline, I'm sure Burke will be holding his cards close to his chest in hopes that the offers will get better in the 11th hour.
It would make sense that Burke (or in this case likely Dave Nonis or Dave Poulin) is in constant contact with Kaberle's agent Rick Curran. For teams interested in Kaberle to give up maximum value for the puck-moving defensemen, teams would want to make sure they can sign him long-term prior to pulling the trigger.
The Leafs themselves are likely working with Curren and Kaberle, trying locked him up long term in case the market is too soft. They won't have their longest-serving talent jump ship without getting something in return.
After Sundin left, I would hope the blue and white brain trust would make sure it won't happen again. Kaberle does say he wants to be a Leaf.
I've read many articles throwing out numerous rumours or trade ideas; in most cases it's pretending to be Burke. There are rarely any sources that can verify the speculation. I'm a fan and can understand the fun in trying to anticipate Burke's next splash.
I wrote an article a couple weeks back going over what teams would have interest in our top bargaining chip. Judging by the comment I got back and the various other articles that I have read, it seems like Leaf nation has a clear wish list as Bobby Ryan and James Neal top the conversation. I personally don't want to close my mind since there are so many options and possibilities.
The trades that have made the largest impact recently, such as Versteeg from Chicago, the Phaneuf package from Calgary, or Giguere swap from Anaheim, all caught me off guard. Even going back to Fletcher's splashes in the '90s with the Gilmour blockbuster with Calgary and Fuhr move from the Oilers, each of these were huge and yet I never saw them coming.
That's what I am on the edge of my seat waiting for. What am I not seeing?
Who's looking for a Tomas Kaberle? Who has what Burke sees as fair value plus fits into his vision? Twenty-two days and it would seem that something has to give.
We presently have just over $1 million left below the cap. That isn't including any movement such as Jeff Finger and his $3.5 million to the Marlies or even Kaberle's $4.25 million heading out.
We can't forget Christian Hanson is still unsigned and will cut into that pot. I would like to see Hanson continue to develop as a regular this season starting from the the first game at the ACC October 7 when we host the Habs.
Once the Kaberle drama concludes then the final pieces can be put into place. It may include small tinkering trades or UFA signing. It seems that Burke is in a holding pattern waiting to see what sticks to the wall.
The Maple Leaf front office, since John Ferguson Jr. was removed, apparently can read my mind (although, to this day I still don't get the Jeff Finger signing by Fletcher). Sending Ponikarovsky, Antropov, Stajan, and Kubina amongst many others away for draft picks or new blood has re-energized me as a fan.
I'm not saying they weren't decent players but they didn't match my idea of a Maple Leaf. It bothered me enough that I actually had a list of players on my favourite team that I didn't like.
I'm not proud of it, but I found myself watching games complaining and hating on them. I survived and yet consistently cheered for the Leafs during the Ballard '80s and there I am whining about the JFJ Leafs. That's just sad!
Now the pieces are falling nicely into place and I have one more name that MUST GO!
Over the next 22 days I am watching and anticipating two things...
No. 1: The conclusion to the Tomas Kaberle saga!
No. 2: Find a way to send Mikhael Grabovski to anyone for anything!
Ray Sheppard was traded from Buffalo to the New York Rangers for $1. I think that sounds like fair market value, any takers? Okay fine, we should be able to get more then $1. Sheppard, however, had already collected over 100 career points at this stage in his career and was liked by more of his teammates (not by much) and fans, which is more then we can say about our Belarusian problem.
Grabovski is also in the way for Nazem Kadri taking his proper place in the Leafs lineup. Kadri should be a top-six forward on this year's club and the second line centre spot is where I see him.
Mr. Burke, please, please relieve Leaf Nation of their Grabovski!
The offseason in Toronto has been less than glamorous so far. Burke has added nice pieces to the stable. For me to be happy heading into the season, I need to know the answers. I'm fine if they re-up Kabby long-term or move him for fair value—I just need closure. I believe this situation will sort itself out and Leaf Nation will be a buzz.
22 days and counting down...Get busy Mr. Burke!
GO LEAFS GO!