Maple Leafs GM Burke has a fine blueline mess on his hands
Listening to the parties involved, you'd think that the inability of the Toronto Maple Leafs to swap marquee defenseman
"While a number of clubs made offers to trade for Tomas, none of them reflected Tomas' value to our team," said Leafs GM
"The issue is over," Kaberle's agent
If you're buying either party line, you're probably willing to take
Despite the sunshine and lollipops, Burke's unwillingness to pull the trigger on a Kaberle swap has left him with something of a mess on his hands. It's a mess of his own making.
Truth is, he should have taken something,
So now he's left to deal with a situation on Toronto's blueline that is entirely untenable. With Kaberle still on the books, the Leafs have eight NHL defensemen under contract. That might be an ideal set-up for a serious Cup contender heading into the playoffs, but for a team that'll be lucky to finish 10th in the Eastern Conference, it's a serious mismanagement of assets that could see Burke spend upwards of $25 million on his defense.
That's why Burke was so desperate to ship out his No. 1 defender. Executed properly, dealing Kaberle would have killed three birds: clearing more than $4 million off the books; opening up playing time for developing rear guards
Now? Burke can bury
And then there's Kaberle, who has to feel as welcome as a mersa infection. He's a good soldier, so he won't allow himself to become a festering wound in the dressing room. But honestly, how happy can anyone be knowing that his boss did everything but post him on Craigslist in an effort to send him packing? Burke has tried, and failed, to deal Kaberle at least twice previously (most famously at the 2009 Entry Draft). A nurturing environment this ain't.
For the moment then, it's full steam ahead with jobs to be earned at training camp. But it's not like this story is going away. In fact, thanks to the hovering Hogtown media, it'll linger over the team all season the same way that
Cue the calliope music.
Kaberle may allow himself to be shopped at some point, if only to run away from the circus, but honestly, it's hard to imagine him having any real desire to go through this wringer again. And it's equally hard to imagine Burke getting a satisfactory return if Kaberle is calling the shots and limiting his trade partners.
And why would Kaberle even consider re-upping for another tour in this man's army? And how on earth could Burke -- who already has $20 million committed to five defenders for 2011-12, not including RFAs Schenn and Gunnarsson -- afford him?
Kaberle's camp is expected to be looking for something in the range of $6 million per season for an extension. It's understandable that he'd want a bump, but the argument can be made, especially based on his sketchy performance in the second half last season, that Kaberle was overpaid by half. He'll have to play at a significantly higher level next season to attract that kind of cash. After all, it's not like 29 other GMs don't have access to NHL Center Ice. They saw the defensive breakdowns and questionable efforts that diminished Kaberle's impact late last year. If he wants to expedite his exit, he'll have to improve his effort.
In that sense, Kaberle can still make a positive impact on the 2010-11 Leafs, but it doesn't change the big picture view.
He would have been even more valuable if he had vacated his stall.