TORONTO (AP) -Tomas Kaberle, often the subject of rumors despite owning a no-trade clause, was nearly on the move from the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Olympic defenseman was willing to give up his right Wednesday to stay with the Leafs if a deal could have been worked out with any of three teams he requested, but general manager Brian Burke couldn't find a deal he liked enough to send Kaberle packing before the NHL trade deadline.
Confusion arose in the hours before the afternoon deadline, when Kaberle suggested to reporters he would agree to a trade. That represented an abrupt change in position by the 32-year-old Kaberle, who had steadfastly refused to entertain the notion of moving away from the only NHL franchise he has known.
"There wasn't a deal to be made, and that was the end of it," Burke said. "We were truthful. We never got a list, but we did explore three avenues that the player's agent asked us to explore as recently as this morning."
He would not name the three teams. Burke said he generally does not accept such lists from players unless they include a minimum of 10 teams, but made an exception for Kaberle in light of the player's service to the Leafs. Burke also made a point of repeating he never approached Kaberle to waive the clause.
"Tomas Kaberle has a no-trade clause, and that was given to him in good faith," Burke said. "I think players can only get them if they have a certain level of seniority and a certain level of expertise. And I think organizations are bound by those things, whether it's the same GM who gave it to the player or not."
The Leafs made their biggest deal on the eve of the deadline, trading winger Alex Ponikarovsky to Pittsburgh as part of a three-player deal. Toronto acquired 21-year-old forward Luca Caputi and defenseman Martin Skoula from the Penguins, but flipped Skoula to the New Jersey Devils for a fifth-round draft pick Wednesday.
Burke also shipped forward Lee Stempniak to Phoenix for defenseman Matt Jones and the Coyotes' fourth-round and seventh-round draft choices in 2010.
In other moves, the Leafs acquired defenseman Chris Peluso from Pittsburgh for a sixth-round draft pick, and traded goalie Joey MacDonald to Anaheim for the Ducks' seventh-round pick in 2011.
Stempniak and Ponikarovsky can both become unrestricted free agents this summer. Burke said Ponikarovsky was traded after the sides failed to terms on the length of a new contract.
"His agent said he wants a four-year contract extension, and I'm not interested in that," Burke said. "When I see some of the contracts that are being awarded, my guess is that this is the right way for Poni to go, too. He thinks he can get a four-year deal somewhere, and my guess is, he probably will - but I'm not giving him a four-year deal."