For years Tomas Kaberle's statistics have been slightly hampered because of the team he played for. Well, Kaberle fantasy owners finally got their wish Friday, as the Toronto Maple Leafs dealt the veteran blueliner to the Boston Bruins in exchange for top prospect Joe Colborne and Boston's first-round pick.
While Kaberle has recorded at least 49 points in four of the last five seasons, he's also had a minus rating in four of those five seasons. Switching from a Toronto squad that has been building for the future for the last three seasons to a team that is a legitimate Stanley Cup contender, Kaberle's plus/minus woes should be a distant memory going forward.
In 58 games this season, the 32-year-old defenseman has 3 goals, 35 assists, a minus-2 rating, 16 penalty minutes, 22 power-play points and 99 shots on goal. You can expect every one of these statistics to increase now that he'll be playing on a much better team with more talent surrounding him. Kaberle is a play-making defenseman that likely will be paired with hard-shooting Zdeno Chara on the blue line, which should result in plenty of assists and power-play points.
The Czech Republic native was averaging 4:24 of power-play ice time per game, and while you can expect that number to stay around the same, his production should definitely increase -- the Leafs enter the weekend ranked 22nd in the NHL in power-play percentage, while Boston ranks 14th, converting 18.1 percent of the time.
Kaberle was on pace for 53 points this season, but the switch to Boston could mean he'll finish somewhere around 60 points (Kaberle has finished with 60-plus points just one time -- 67 in 2005-06). If you're already a Kaberle owner, congratulations; if not, you might want to consider making a trade.
Not only did the Bruins acquire a top-flight defenseman, but they also added a little more depth on the offensive end by dealing for Rich Peverley. The busy Bruins sent Blake Wheeler and defenseman Mark Stuart to the Atlanta Thrashers in exchange for Peverley and blueliner Boris Valabik. While Stuart and Valabik don't mean much in the fantasy world, Peverley and Wheeler should both get fantasy boosts.
Peverley is having a solid 2010-11 season with 14 goals and 34 points in 59 games, but his minus-16 rating has made him less noticeable in most fantasy leagues. Like Kaberle, you can expect that to change. Peverley's ice time may come down a bit, as he was averaging over 19 minutes of ice time per game in Atlanta as the team's No. 1 center. In Boston, he's projected as their No. 3 center, behind Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. Regardless, Peverley should see some decent power-play time, considering he's a talented 28-year-old that posted 55 points last season, and he could be an interesting add for a fantasy squad in need of assists. He's owned in just 14 percent of Yahoo! Leagues, so if you're in need of a depth center, grab him immediately.
On the other side, the Thrashers add a big, talented forward in Wheeler (owned in 7 percent of Yahoo! Leagues). Wheeler, the fifth selection of the 2004 Entry Draft, had 11 goals and 27 points in 58 games for the B's. Many Wheeler fantasy owners might think this hurts his value, but there's a chance this actually gives him a bit of a boost.
Wheeler had been seeing limited ice time in Boston (averaging just 15:12 per game), but with Anthony Stewart being the lone reliable right winger in Atlanta, you can expect Wheeler to get more playing time now. Wheeler also was getting less than a minute of power-play ice time per game in Boston, but the Thrashers could look to take advantage of his big body by putting him in front of the net on the man advantage. Wheeler might not wow us in Atlanta, but let's not forget he scored 21 goals as a rookie in 2008-09, so the potential is there. If you have the space on your roster, feel free to take a flyer him.
Contact Matt Cubeta at MCubeta@nhl.com