Why Tomas Kaberle To New Jersey Won’t Happen
Maple Leafs' defenseman Tomas Kaberle participates in a promotional intermission activity at the Air Canada Centre.
Reports have surfaced indicating that Lou Lamoriello has significant interest in acquiring Tomas Kaberle.
Positive for Brian Burke is that the Devils are one of several teams believed to be interested in the 32-year-old Czech blueliner. The bidding war for Kaberle is in full swing, and there will be several solid offers on the table heading into the NHL Entry Draft.
Tomas Kaberle would undoubtedly be a perfect fit in New Jersey. Since the departure of Scott Niedermayer, beginning with the post-lockout season in ‘05-06, the Devils have won their division four of five years, but have advanced only two playoff rounds.
As key defensemen have left the New Jersey Devils’ organization, onlookers are left continually scratching their heads, not able to comprehend how the Devils win so many games with very little star power patrolling their back-end.
But considering the Devils have won two rounds without Niedermayer, it’s no wonder Lamoriello has expressed interest in Kaberle. Come playoff time, the minute-munchers and puck carrying specialists see more ice time and are vital to any team’s playoff success. Especially valuable are defenseman of Tomas Kaberle’s ilk, who possess the ability to skate the puck out of trouble and create offensively.
Unfortunately for New Jersey, they probably don’t have the assets Brian Burke is looking for in return for Kaberle.
Of interest to Burke are first round picks and forwards who can step into the Leafs’ lineup this upcoming season and improve the team. More specifically, a big, young centreman would be ideal.
The Devils don’t own any first round picks in this draft so that immediately lessens the chance for a deal. Having dealt their first round pick to the Thrashers in exchange for Ilya Kovalchuk, New Jersey’s earliest draft pick in 2010 is slotted for 38th overall.
This pick would be of interest to Burke as a starting point for any deal. He’s said time and again that his desire to acquire picks stems from his respect for his scouting department — he hates the idea of watching them sit idly until the 62nd selection of the draft. You get the feeling he’ll somehow acquire a pick between 10-61 on draft day.
Beyond the lack of a first round pick, only David Clarkson and Travis Zajac would seem to be of interest to Burke from the current Devils roster.
Clarkson could be had, but the 26-year-old Toronto native is a second-liner at best, but more of a third-line talent. His physical style and size are attributes that Brian Burke covets, but his offensive ceiling is very limited. It’s difficult to imagine Clarkson ever topping 50 points, so for a team like Toronto that’s in the market for high end skill, Clarkson and a pick alone wouldn’t be enough to pry away Tomas Kaberle.
Zajac would be a dream pickup for the Leafs. He’s a 6′2″ Canadian centreman who has recently scored 67 points and still has plenty of upside. Unfortunately for Brian Burke, Zajac is New Jersey’s current number one centre and one of the few young components of their aging roster. It’s unlikely that Lamoriello would consider including him in a deal.
However, Brian Burke has been known to execute blockbuster deals, so if Zajac were to be part of a deal, here’s how it would have to be structured:
First, Burke would need to surrender either Nazem Kadri or Tyler Bozak to help ease the blow to New Jersey. Kaberle for Zajac is a lopsided deal in favour of Toronto when you consider age and contract status. That said, for Burke to give up his current number one centre or a future number one centre in addition to Kaberle, he’d expect more coming back from New Jersey. Kaberle and Bozak for Zajac, Clarkson, a top prospect and a couple of draft picks might look fair on paper, assuming Kaberle would be willing to sign a contract extension in New Jersey. Any deal involving Travis Zajac would probably involve a lot of assets changing cities.
Don’t expect a deal of this scope to go down, though. If Lou is interested in centring the deal around a prospect like Mattias Tedenby or Jacob Josefson, his offer will probably fall to deaf ears. Despite the argument that a short-term mindset has plagued the Leafs organization for decades, Burke has repeatedly told the media that he’s not interested in a slow rebuild. He’s looking to re-tool, and to be back in the post season in the Spring of 2011.
The fact that Lou Lamoriello and/or Brian Burke have allowed New Jersey’s interest in Kaberle to become public information creates some intrigue. Does Lou seem like the type who would express interest without a fair package for Burke to mull over? The Devils are a winning franchise because of Lamoriello’s ability as a GM. Perhaps he’ll find a way to make the trade work.
Theories vary on how much Tomas Kaberle is worth on the trade market, but certainly, as the offers pour in, his value continues to rise.