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Numbers Game: Bruins bring in Kaberle

Scott Cullen
2/18/2011 3:10:02 PM
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Toronto and Boston finally completed their rumoured deal for Tomas Kaberle.

Numbers Game examines the deal and what it means for the teams involved.

The Bruins Get: D Tomas Kaberle.

Kaberle, 32, has been a mainstay on the Maple Leafs blueline since 1998, playing 878 games and recording 520 points, including 264 on the power play.

Even in the midst of a Maple Leafs season that appears to be going nowhere, Kaberle has put up solid numbers (38 points, minus-2 in 58 games), improving his numbers recently with eight points and a plus-4 rating in nine games this month.

Though he has decent size, at 6-foot-1, 198 pounds, Kaberle is about the farthest thing possible from a physical defenceman and that's okay, because he's sound positionally and a very accomplished passer who can quarterback the power play.  You know what you're getting with Kaberle.

To wit, Kaberle has registered at least 19 power play points in each of the last six seasons and his 296 total points over the last six seasons is tied, with Brian Rafalski, for second-most among all NHL defencemen in that time, behind Nicklas Lidstrom.

Boston's power play ranks 14th in the league, at a respectable 18.1%, but adding Kaberle to the point on the first unit, ahead of Mark Recchi (who has been there lately) could bump the Bruins over 20.0% and while that seems like a marginal difference, it would move them from 14th into the range of eighth with the man advantage.

In the playoffs, when special teams are so important, that improved power play will become even more vital to the Bruins' chances.

In order to acquire Kaberle, the Bruins needed to make a trade with Atlanta to clear cap space, yet it will still leave the Bruins with good depth on the blueline, as one of Andrew Ference, Johnny Boychuk, Adam McQuaid or Steven Kampfer will be on the outside looking in at the top six.

In the final year of his contract, Kaberle is a $4.25-million cap hit and may be inclined to discuss a contract extension with the Bruins, a team (perhaps the only team, if rumours are to be believed) for which he was willing to waive his no-trade clause.

The Maple Leafs Get: C Joe Colborne, a first-round pick and a conditional pick.

Colborne is a lanky 21-year-old that the Bruins drafted 16th overall in 2008. 

He's still feeling his way through pro hockey, managing 26 points in 55 games with AHL Providence, but Colborne's minus-16 rating is also worst among Providence forwards, so there's still some work to do before pressing him into NHL duty.

Colborne will have to get stronger, but if he does, his 6-foot-5 frame and offensive track record (including 72 points in 79 games in two seasons at the University of Denver) could make him a fit as a big scoring centre.  That's obviously the hope for the Leafs, if they can wait a year or two for the pay-off.

The Bruins' first-round pick is clearly going to be a late first-rounder, but when combined with the likely late first-rounder that the Leafs acquired in the Kris Versteeg deal, they're at least giving themselves a shot at restocking the cupboard through the draft.

According to Bob McKenzie, the conditional pick in Kaberle deal is that Toronto will get a second-rounder in 2012 if Kaberle re-signs in Boston or if Boston makes the Stanley Cup final.

With Kaberle and Francois Beauchemin traded, Toronto's bluelins is now awfully thin.  Dion Phaneuf is the only defenceman left that has played more than one minute per game on the power play and, while Luke Schenn ranks second on the blueline in power play time, he hasn't been particularly effective in those situations.

The Leafs have already brought up Keith Aulie to play a top four role, so now Mike Komisarek and/or Carl Gunnarsson will have to play more substantial minutes than what they've provided this season.  They've each had their moments in the past, just not so much this year.

One interesting facet of this deal is the picks involved.  Boston appears to have paid a healthy premium to acquire Kaberle, but by taking him away from the Leafs, they effectively insure the value of the 2011 first-round pick of Toronto's that the Bruins already own (from the Phil Kessel trade), so maybe it's worth paying the premium, in hopes that this year's pick is another Top Five selection.

It's easy to say Boston is going all-in for this season, considering the potential cost of picks/prospects in this deal, but for a team that has been accumulating quality prospects like Tyler Seguin and Jordan Caron in recent seasons, while still holding another high first-rounder this year, they can afford to pay this price.

From Toronto's perspective, it's a much greater return that could have reasonably been expected for Kaberle and while it's going to take some time to reap the rewards of the picks they are getting, having 11 picks in this year's draft is a sign that Toronto is making moves that will have long-term benefits for the organization while, at the same time, increasing their financial flexibility this summer.

Ultimately, this seems like a deal that should be appealing to both sides, as they are two franchises in very different places, with different objectives right now.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@ctv.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.



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