It is official: Tomas Kaberle has been traded to the Boston Bruins for Joe Colborne, a 2011 first rounder, and a conditional second rounder in 2012. The second rounder will go to the Leafs if the Bruins make the Stanley Cup Final (gross) or if Tomas Kaberle re-signs in Boston (sigh). Joe Colborne was the Bruins first round pick in 2008 16th overall joining Luke Schenn (fifth overall) and Jake Gardiner (17th overall) as draft picks from that year in the Leafs' system. You can read more about Joe Colborne in Chemmy's front page post.
As for Tomas Kaberle, I cannot do justice to the man. I was part of the contingent of fans that have spent the past two plus seasons agitating for him to be traded, disparaging his will to win because he wouldn't leave, and cursing Brian Burke for not using the two summer periods to move him for something. Well, we got our wish and I don't know about others but I feel pretty empty right now. The Leafs lost their last link to the never quite strong enough pre-lockout teams that came so close to breaking through to the final. The franchise has also lost the last active player to play at Maple Leaf Gardens. He was also the 11th on the Maple Leafs’ all-time points list with 520 points, eighth in games played with 878, fifth in assists (437) and second in regular season overtime goals (7). Among the pantheon of Leafs defencemen he stands astride as a colossus beside all-time greats Tim Horton and Borje Salming.
Tomas Kaberle's most loyal fan Eyebleaf will be giving him the send off that he deserves. After the jump, more analysis!
After two years of maddening play which I attributed to fallout from Cam Janssen's filthy hit, he developed a strong partnership with Luke Schenn. You could see the young Leafs defenceman increased confidence in handling the puck more with every passing game. He frequently referred to Tomas Kaberle as his mentor. Kaberle's defensive game, while never the best, improved alongside the steady Schenn. Offensively, he returned to the perch that Leafs fans had always insisted he held: an elite puck moving defenceman. He currently sits seventh in points among defenceman and fourth in assists. He is moving from the 27th ranked offence and the 22nd ranked powerplay to the fifth ranked offence and 14th ranked powerplay. His numbers will probably improve.
As for Brian Burke, this is the second move in a week that nets the Maple Leafs a first rounder. The additions of Joe Colborne and Jake Gardiner to Nazem Kadri and Luke Schenn give the Leafs four first rounders from the last 3 drafts with two more likely coming this summer. As Down Goes Brown noted, Burke should be commended for getting his asking price. This return for Kaberle is precisely what he has been asking for for the past two years: a top-tier prospect and a first round pick. I certainly wanted him to move him last summer rather than risk losing him for nothing but Burke has shut the both of us up. His patience was rewarded even as myself and others clamoured for him to take packages like Ryan Malone and a pick.
In terms of winners and losers, it would be easy for me to note that the Bruins gave up two first rounders for Kaberle and make a snarky remark about the Kessel deal. The reality is, as I and many others have said before, there are five questions marks involved in these two trades and it will take time to determine the impact that each will have on their respective teams. Today, the Leafs' future has added two more quality possibilities. Boston's first rounder joins Philadelphia's in being later in the draft but it gives Burke something to work with. Unlike with the Kris Versteeg trade Burke moved an asset that had no future with the club. According to most reports, neither side was interested in extending the relationship. The Maple Leafs are worse off right now on paper but it remains to be seen how the team will fill the gaps alongside Luke Schenn and on the top powerplay unit. Burke still has assets to play with and players could get promoted from within the organization. Right now, the big worry is that we're going to see more Brett Lebda.
As for Boston, they've addressed one of their biggest needs. Kaberle instantly improves the Bruins' defensive corps on paper. Trom an offensive standpoint it's clear what he brings to the table and based on how poorly they've done at limiting shots he won't hurt them defensively. With Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask backstopping him he'll likely see his defensive stats improve as well. While I wish Kaberle the best individually I hope that he helps them as much as Alex Ponikarovsky helped the Penguins last year.