Tomas Kaberle could have been traded without his permission until Aug. 16, but now has a no-trade clause. (Getty Images)
After months of trade speculation, defenseman Tomas Kaberle remains a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
GM Brian Burke issued a statement early Monday morning soon after Kaberle’s no-trade clause went back into effect saying he was unable to find a deal worthy of the blueliner’s value, but claimed he was happy for the player’s sake the situation was resolved.
Various reasons were given as to why Kaberle wasn’t dealt, one being that the New Jersey Devils and L.A. Kings might’ve been more interested had they not been distracted in their pursuit of left winger Ilya Kovalchuk.
That, however, doesn’t really make sense. Kaberle is a quality puckmoving defenseman, while Kovalchuk is a superstar scoring forward, so pursuing one doesn’t address the need the other would.
The Kings had been out of the Kovalchuk bidding for three weeks, so if they were indeed interested in Kaberle they had plenty of time and opportunity to jump into the sweepstakes.
More significant factors were the lack of teams with available cap space willing to absorb his $4.25 million salary, the availability of Vancouver’s Kevin Bieksa and former Canuck Willie Mitchell, and an unwillingness from teams to part with Burke’s asking price for a player likely to test next summer’s UFA market.
Lost in the hype over Kaberle’s trade status was the fact another puckmoving defenseman – Bieksa – might still be available in the trade market.
The Ottawa Sun reported Sunday the San Jose Sharks were rumored to have offered up either Jamie McGinn or Logan Couture to the Canucks for Bieksa and also suggested the Dallas Stars, Tampa Bay Lightning, Columbus Blue Jackets and the L.A. Kings as teams also in need of such blueline help.
It is possible teams that failed to entice the Maple Leafs into parting with Kaberle will give consideration to Bieksa.
The Blue Jackets were reportedly close to acquiring Bieksa in early July – with young winger Nikita Filatov rumored to be part of the return – but that fell through. The Anaheim Ducks were also thought to have interest in Bieksa, while the Sharks have been recent trade partners with the Canucks.
It appears the contract of Bruins center Marc Savard will keep him in Boston for at least the upcoming season.
Over the weekend, a report in the Globe and Mail suggested the NHL’s ongoing investigation into Savard’s contract will likely keep him out of the trade market as rival GMs aren’t keen to take on that potential headache.
Savard’s restrictive no-trade clause for the upcoming season, combined with his lengthy contract (with an average cap hit of $4 million per season) had already seriously impacted his trade value this summer. The investigation has all but killed any lingering perception he would be moved.
With August now half over and the start of NHL training camps less than a month away, some unsigned free agents are starting to become frustrated and concerned over their inability to land NHL contracts.
Former Detroit Red Wings defenseman Andreas Lilja expressed his frustration to a Swedish newspaper, suggesting teams were trying to drive down player salaries by bringing in younger, cheaper players.
Right winger Shean Donovan, who played for the Ottawa Senators, is hoping to play again this season, but isn’t sure where that will be. He recently told the Ottawa Sun he’d had a couple of offers from European teams, but is waiting to see if he can stay in the NHL.
One-time Edmonton Oilers right winger Fernando Pisani wondered if he’d get an NHL contract before training camps open. He told the Edmonton Journal he’s uncertain if he’d accept a two-way contract (which would pay him considerably less if he’s demoted to the American League) or a training camp invitation – where he’d have to earn a contract – if still unsigned by that point.
The sad fact for aging depth players like Lilja and Donovan is there might not be any jobs available for them in the NHL this season unless they’re willing to play for close to league minimum on a one-year contract.
Lilja’s suspicion is understandable, but the real reason for his inability to find a new NHL contract on his terms (he’s believed to be seeking $1.5 million per season) is too many teams entered this off-season without as much workable cap space as in previous years, leaving veterans like him out in the cold.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays and Thursdays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.