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Burke Offers Honest, Nuanced Take On Kaberle

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

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I believe Brian Burke down to my toes.

But I also believe there is little he says that should be processed as a shark swallows a minnow.

I think it’s because of Burke’s legal training. While the visual is blunt, Burke has an unparalleled talent for nuance.

Yes, nuance.

When he says he is not “committed to trading Tomas Kaberle, but it’s my job is to listen,” as he did on the Fan590 Tuesday, and when he also mentions two teams have made inquiries, he is finessing things with a little bit of managerial sleight of hand.

One the one hand, he isn’t actively looking. That seems like a no to the trade idea.

But he is listening. That’s a yes.

He has long maintained he is fine with having Kaberle on his team.

That’s a no to a trade.

But he has instructed his Number One, Dave Nonis, to outline the terms of Kaberle’s contract which includes a removal of his no-trade clause from the NHL draft to mid-August. Dat be a yes.

The real question is not whether Brian Burke would trade Tomas Kaberle. Of course he would. Same goes for Mikhail Grabovski, Luke Schenn, Jonas Gustavsson or, as we have seen, a first-round draft choice.

The real answer goes back to a story in which Winston Churchill offered a fortune for a woman’s favors. She said she might. Then he offered a pittance. “What do you think I am?” replied the woman, indignantly.

“We have already established that,” Churchill said. “Now we are talking price.”

Price is the only thing that matters and price is what one person will pay. It works better when competition spurs the market, but at the end of the day, you can only accept one offer. People once viewed spouses the very same way.

Kaberle is 31 and while his $4.25 million salary is palatable, he is a year away from free agency. That said, he slumped badly last season and has never been a physical threat. He was a vital cog in the worst power play in the league but he still has plenty of miles left. The game isn’t teeming with puckmoving defenceman like Kaberle who are also among the league’s best-passing blueliners.

For those of you scoring the news at home, there’s a good chance of a trade, followed by good, bad, bad, bad, bad, good and of course good,
Who will pay what is the one and the only question.

The Leafs have a few options.

Farm System: Nazem Kadri is the only homegrown player who figures to make a significant contribution next season…provided he makes the team. Chris DiDomenico, Joel Champagne, Dale Mitchell, Mikhail Stefanovich and several more will be Marlie-bound.

Free Agency: Pretty thin. Burke wants a scoring forward. The best candidates are Tomas Plekanec of the Habs, the Sharks’ Patrick Marleau and the gifted Ilya Kovalchuk. A surprise that would bring one of those players here would be welcome but a surprise nonetheless.

Trade: Hard to see who he would deal unless Burke pulls of a jaw-dropping move and deals Schenn.

That leaves Kaberle to fetch a scoring forward or high draft choice or both. Dion Phaneuf’s arrival made Kaberle expandable.

So yes, Brian Burke is waiting and listening. He’ll know when the tumblers have dropped nicely into place.
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