The Tomas Kaberle trade vortex (see above) has sabotaged a week in which Leafs’ fans should be widely rejoicing. Thanks to Mikhail Grabovski and Phil Kessel, with a pair each, the Leafs turned out a rare character win in Boston. Then, the next night, Joey Crabb’s gusty shortie in Buffalo was the difference in a game when Ryan Miller, finally, was not impervious. Yet, for many, it’s another week full of angst. That trade vortex, surrounding Tomas Kaberle, has, to a degree, hijacked Leafs’ fans enthusiasm. And that’s a shame.
I admire the fact that Kaberle and his agent, Rick Curran, have asked to keep the proceedings surrounding Kaberle’s imminent departure from Toronto on the down low. But that’s like asking Arnold Schwarzenegger to blend into the crowd. Pretty tough to do. Actually, we’re going to amend that to impossible in Toronto. The NHL’s trade deadline falls on Monday, February 28th so, for the next 10 days, we’re in for pounds and pounds of speculation – not to mention the dozen hours of fluff that the sports networks will heap on us on deadline day.
However, for the 23 guys who wear the Leafs’ jersey, the focus on Kaberle might actually be a bonus. There is such keen interest on this team in this city that a break in the scrutiny is probably welcomed. With the Leafs six points out of a potential playoff spot, James Reimer (who, with Jiggy’s injury, now has ALL eyes on him) does not need any more intensity in his spotlight. He just needs to stop pucks. And, with the Leafs’ next two games against the two sorriest clubs in the Eastern Conference, Ottawa and the Islanders, that should be eminently doable.
No matter where Kaberle ends up, Brian Burke will not get much immediate help in return…and he will certainly not get a top-six forward or top-four defenceman. No matter. After Kaberle goes, Burke’ll have even more cap space with which to, during the summer, acquire a puck-moving defenceman to take over that role from Kaberle. And, more than likely, whomever replaces Kaberle will have a ton more heart and desire. And please don’t start screaming about the reference. You know Kabby is woefully lacking in both.
Some are suggesting that Burke could get goaltending help from whichever team acquires Kaberle. Not likely. And, again, certainly not a goaltender who’s going to help the Leafs in this what-seems-like-annual, late-season playoff push. Reimer is going to be Ron Wilson’s go-to guy. Frankly, whether or not J-S Giguère had been hurt, Reimer should be the guy anyway.
Bottom line is that the quicker that Kaberle hits the road – to the Bruins or another taker – the quicker the Maple Leafs can move into the brighter future.