Was There No Market for Tomas Kaberle?

Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Brian Burke didn’t do what almost every media outlet expected him to do, trade Tomas Kaberle. The question that should be pondered is why not. Is is possible that there simply is no market for Tomas Kaberle? Perhaps, Kaberle is another example of an fan overating Maple Leaf player. The difference this time, I suggest is that the media this time, lead the pack. Almost with out exception every member of the Maple Leaf reporter harram was predicting that Tomas Kaberle would be dealt and that it wouldn’t be until that time that Burke’s real makeover would take place.

Let’s look at Maple Leaf Guru Howard Berger:
“Now, the Maple Leafs’ GM has 23 days to prevent himself from negating much of the process. That’s the amount of time remaining until Tomas Kaberle’s limited no-movement clause goes back into effect through all of next season. And, though Burke continues to posture by “insisting” Kaberle will be in the Leafs’ opening-night line up, Oct. 1st, he must also understand there is hardly any rationale in retaining the veteran defenseman beyond this summer. In fact, it says here that only a bout of stubbornness – fueled by over-valuing the Czech-born blue-liner – can preclude Burke from pulling off a trade essential to the Maple Leafs’ development by the Aug. 15th contractual deadline. And, what a waste of an opportunity that would be for the hockey club.”

What do you think happened between the NHL draft when Kaberle was rumored to be headed to Boston and now? Burke’s most tradeable asset is now locked in for the rest of year. Burke said as recently as yesterday that he will not ask Kaberle to waive his no trade clause. That means, Burke is down to 2 roads with Kaberle, resign him or watch him leave for nothing. Unless Kaberle is going to take a pay cut, I don’t see Burke resigning him. Is this the start of another prime example of a Toronto team holding on to an asset too long or worse losing them for nothing?? It says here that no one will trade a kings ransom for the rights to negotiate early with Kaberle at the draft next year.

“[Kaberle] is, as Burke accurately contends, a low-maintenance, high-quality teammate; certainly among the classiest players I’ve been associated with in nearly 20 years on the Leafs beat. And, most attractively, Tomas carries with him an understated salary [and cap hit], with two years left at $4.25 million per season. That contractual allurement is no longer of benefit to the Maple Leafs, who will almost surely be in a structuring mode beyond its remaining term. But, it could be an economic and strategic God-send for a club at an advanced stage of development. That’s why it is almost impossible to conceive that Burke will not be presented an adequate trade proposal before Aug. 15th. Though the GM contends he will only move Kaberle if his “socks” are blown off, he knows he isn’t bartering Zdeno Chara, Nicklas Lidstrom, Dion Phaneuf, Dan Boyle, or any front-of-the-pack NHL defenseman. Kaberle is in the upper-middle echelon of blue-liners, but his value on the supply-and-demand market is likely never to be higher than right now. As such, Burke should attract at least one disproportionate offer for his services.”

So, I am willing to go on a limb and say that Burke is smart. If he received the right offer he would have taken it. Why wouldn’t he? It’s one thing to be stubborn as Howie suggests, it’s another to be so stubborn to the detriment of your hockey team. It says here that Burke hasn’t been here long enough to be in that stage yet. The only other possibility is that there was no market for Kaberle. If not, we have to ask at why not. Perhaps his injury last year played a major part. Perhaps, Kaberle just isn’t as good as we here in Toronto think he is (me included).

“Therefore, I continue to believe it is a foregone conclusion that Kaberle has played his final game in a Toronto jersey, and that the Leafs’ future will be further enhanced before the middle of next month.”

Well, just as they didn’t finish dead last, Howie was dead wrong. He can take solace in the fact that he wasn’t alone. I suspect in the giving days we will get a mea culpa blog from southern California. I also suspect that the only reason #15 isn’t an available jersey number is that Burke couldn’t trade him. Perhaps in this economy his $4.5m salary isn’t the “reasonable” one that we all thought it was.

Another reason to love Jim Balsillie- He has been able to shut the mouth of one Richard Peddie. Seriously think about, when was the last time Peddie was this quiet. Me thinks he may have been in diapers and using a pacifier. Since Balsilie’s offer on the Coyotes, Peddie hasn’t opened his mouth except to say ” no comment.” Those are the words he should stick to as his permanent response to questions. Thanks JB.



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Garrett Bauman
Garrett Bauman
August 16, 2009 6:22 am

The problem is the price tag was supposedly set at a prospect, pick, and roster player. That’s a hefty return in a salary capped league, where youth and draft picks hold the highest value. I don’t think the issue was the lack of a market for Kaberle, so much as it was a lack of a market for the price set for Kaberle’s services.

I don’t know why everyone is afraid he will not resign. Or that the Leafs can’t spend a bit more to keep him. They have close to $20 million coming off the books next season, and given the depth of already-signed defenders and young forwards who will be given a chance, a good chunk of that change can go into re-signing a couple of core players whose contracts come up (e.g. Kaberle).

If they can re-up him in the neighborhood of 5m-5.5m, it will be good value comparatively to other NHL players at his position, and more importantly, easily affordable (cap-wise) for the team.

August 16, 2009 7:29 am

Kaberle isn’t a free agent at the end of this coming season. He doesn’t become a free agent until July 1 2011…

August 16, 2009 9:56 am

Burke sent a message to the Toronto media. I run this team, NOT you. Too often in the past the media pressure caused the Leaf management to jump the gun or make losing one sided deals. By keeping Kabs, Burke achieved a few positives for the team. Firstly, he kept an underpaid puck moving defensman that allows him more flexibility for future moves. It also does not force him to overpay for a replacement which he would have been forced to do. He also sends the right message to Kaberle for this season and into the future, you are our man.


[…] Was there no market for Tomas Kaberle? Toronto Sports Media […]

Garrett Bauman
Garrett Bauman
August 16, 2009 12:37 pm


As far as I know, yes his trade window re-opens if the team fails to make the playoffs once again.

Also, he was willing to waive his NTC last year at the deadline (or, at least, he submitted his list of 10 teams he was willing to go to which is a step toward waiving), so there is a chance he could do so again this year, if, say a contender is interested in adding him for a playoff or cup run.

Marshall is right, Kaberle is under contract for 2 more seasons so this isn’t exactly the end of the world. It wouldn’t shock me if some of the money saved next season (somewhere between 17 and 20m frees up next offseason when a number of contracts expire) is either held over (unspent or spent on 1 year deals), in order to have the $$$ available to re-sign Kabs.

August 16, 2009 3:28 pm

I get nightmeres when I think of how close we came to both Carter and Lecavier.Burke has made sure this team won’t be in top 3 draft territory next year at the very least,we might as well go for it.The Tank Nation ship has sadly sailed,though Burke could parley some of his D aquisitions at the deadline

Leaf in Habland
Leaf in Habland
August 16, 2009 6:23 pm

The whole idea of getting rid of players in order to make sure you get some “value” out of them is just wrong. Hockey players make up a hockey team, not cap hits, and not jersey numbers. Kaberle’s value as a hockey players (ie as a person) is such that the Leafs have gotten everything and more they could have expected out of him.

I’m not big into symbolism, but trading him just to prove a point (ie that he’s going to make a change, that he is the “new” regime) is the wrong symbol. Kaberle symbolizes, if anything, the best of the Leafs as an organization: they drafted him, they developed him, he became a 4-time all-star (yes, the sympathy choice on a sometimes bad team, but not always: he and Mats both went in 2002, which means he got the nod based on merit), and almost a team captain.

He is the best defenceman available for the price they are paying him, and his value is increased by the fact that he’s been with the team so long. I’m pretty sure I’d rather have him on the blueline than Jaroslav Spacek when the chips are down. All the tank stuff is nonsense. Professionals don’t tank. They Leafs might barely make the playoffs this year, but that’s ok for a team in transition. Let it ride, Burkie, let it ride.

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