The rumor mill is buzzing and the Toronto Maple Leafs are again at the center of attention. The target? None other than puck-moving defenseman Tomas Kaberle.
Toronto supposedly has several suitors interested in Kaberle’s services and that a deal to move him out of Toronto could come shortly after the end of the Stanley Cup playoffs. If not by then, sources are claiming that a deal will certainly be done before the end of Round 1 of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
While the rumors are vague at this point, it seems that one scenario involves trading Kaberle and a prospect for a draft pick and a very good, young goaltending prospect. The draft pick coming to Toronto would most likely be a first round pick to make up for their own first round pick that was traded last summer to Boston in the Phil Kessel deal. The second part of this scenario is simple – by trading Kaberle, the Leafs free up the $6 million or more that it will take to bring in a top 3 forward when the free agency period opens up on July 1. Regardless of who the Leafs target, sources claim that Toronto’s plan when the free agency period opens up is to secure more offense.
Darren Dreger of TSN is reporting that as many as five teams are interested in Kaberle while two are at least very interested in obtaining the defenseman. Pittsburgh and Washington are rumored to be the two primary contenders. Pittsburgh would love to bring in Kaberle as a suitable replacement for Sergei Gonchar if they are unable to resign the unrestricted free agent. However, with the cap going up roughly $2 million, Pittsburgh may be able to squeeze Gonchar under the cap. A mobile defenseman who is capable of scoring 50 or more points a season would also entice the offensively-stacked Washington Capitals as well, but other sources claim that Washington is more interested in targeting Anton Volchenkov as thier first choice when the free agency period opens. New Jersey and Buffalo are also rumored to be in the mix for Kaberle.
Regardless of what the rumors state or where he ends up, it appears as if Kaberle’s tenure in Toronto is all but finished. While Kaberle has often been the target of trade rumors, several sources are claiming that there are solid offers on the table for Kaberle. With Toronto looking to rebuild quickly and make a run for the playoffs next season, GM Brian Burke will probably not hesitate to pull the trigger on a deal to ship Kaberle out of Toronto.