Toronto GM and President Brian Burke tossed cold water on media reports suggesting a deal that will send defenseman Tomas Kaberle to Boston is imminent during an interview on NHL Live! on Thursday.
Burke said that Kaberle, who has a no-trade clause in his contract, has not given the Maple Leafs a list of teams he would be willing to go to before the Feb. 28 trade deadline. Burke believes Kaberle is open to a trade based on an interview he heard the player give Wednesday, when Kaberle said he would be willing to do anything to help the team, but Burke said nothing has been communicated directly to him as of yet.
"I would not even divulge the fact that he appears open to a discussion, except he's already done so," Burke said. "So, my guess is if we found something that was attractive and went back to the agent, Tomas might be receptive to that, but that's far from clear or far from done. We're just going to keep knocking on doors. The fact that he has a no-trade doesn't prohibit me from talking to other teams about potential trades, which we've done."
Any report suggesting Kaberle will agree to a trade only if it's with Boston is erroneous, Burke said, and wouldn't be something the Maple Leafs would agree to anyway because "that's not fair to us."
"It's not true that the deal is done with Boston. None of that is true," Burke said. "We continue to talk to multiple teams and we'll see where it goes."
Burke has not spoken to Kaberle at all regarding his trade discussions. He said he's been in contact with Kaberle's agent, Rick Curran, who "has requested radio silence on this." Burke said he only will speak to Kaberle if he has negotiated a trade that needs the player's approval.
"I'm not going to bug him every time a GM calls me about Tomas Kaberle," Burke said. "I'm leaving him alone. He's played really well for us and he's a quality person. I'm leaving him alone and dealing with Rick Curran."
The Maple Leafs enter Thursday's games 11th in the Eastern Conference, six points out of a playoff spot. Burke said he's not punting on this season yet, but he also refuses to make a deal that will help the Leafs now but hurt their long-term rebuilding plan.
"The notion of getting in in the eighth spot and getting spanked in the first round doesn't do a lot for me or do a lot for our marketplace," Burke said. "We can make the playoffs. We can trade Luke Schenn tomorrow and make the playoffs. We can get three veteran players that'll get us in and then we'll get spanked in the first round. What have you accomplished? Nothing.
He is, in my opinion, one of the best defensemen in the NHL and continuing to grow. I think his game, from an offensive standpoint, he continues to drive our offense... I think there's still tremendous upside for Oliver.
— Coyotes GM Don Maloney on defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson