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Don't Expect Burke to Hit a Home Run in Kaberle Trade Derby

Aug 12, 2010 – 6:44 PM
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Alan Adams

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To use a baseball analogy, Brian Burke goes into the weekend trying to hit a home run in the Tomas Kaberle trade derby.

When you finish 29th overall like the Toronto Maple Leafs did last season, you have to swing for the fences.

Burke has until Sunday to move Kaberle before his no-trade clause kicks back in. The general manager of the Maple Leafs knows as well as anyone that his wish to see the Leafs in the 2010-11 playoffs will not become reality without at least one more quality forward from a Kaberle trade.

But the proverbial "home run" is way out of reach as Kaberle, in this correspondent's eyes, isn't worth a 30-goal scorer.

To keep with the baseball analogies, Burke should be happy if he hits a double, and ecstatic if he beats the throw to third for a triple. But don't look for Burke to settle for a single.

It's no secret in hockey circles that Kaberle isn't the flavor of the week in the eyes of head coach Ron Wilson.

In addition, Kaberle isn't the rough and tough defenceman Burke likes to have on the back end of his gritty teams. Kaberle is great at moving the puck out of his end. He can jump into the play and create offence. But when it comes to playing tough in his end of the ice, let's say that's not one of his strengths.

Burke is on record as saying the number of teams who have inquired about Kaberle is in double digits, and the best offers haven't come across his desk as yet. Burke may be trying to create a market for his asset but it's not often that a puck-moving defender comes available so you can understand why there is the interest.

It's no secret the most pressing need for the Maple Leafs is up front. There is a definite lack of top six talent, at least in the short term. Trouble is, Burke has identified the short term -- i.e. making the playoffs next season -- as a priority.

The Leafs are definitely a better team now than they were when they wound up 29th overall in April. The acquisition of Kris Versteeg from the Chicago Blackhawks adds depth, and the signing of free agent Colby Armstrong also helps.

But someone has to score goals, and as much as Burke would like to have a 30-goal scorer coming back in return for Kaberle, don't look for that to happen.

At best, Burke can get a player who, after a few years of seasoning in the NHL, could blossom into a top six forward.

David Backes of the St. Louis Blues comes to mind. He scored 17 goals and finished with 31 points and Burke picked him for the U.S. Olympic team. Backes would be a standup double rather than a triple.

The Washington Capitals are said to be trying to move Tomas Fleischmann, who had 23 goals and 51 points in a bit of a breakout season last year and signed a one-year, $2.6-million deal this summer. Another double.

If Burke changes his mind and decides to take prospects, then the field is wide open and look for Tampa Bay and Los Angeles to be more than interested.

But be it a single, double or triple, the time has come to send Kaberle packing.

It's not that Kaberle has done anything wrong. But not to move him would represent a setback. Kaberle knows the love affair is over in Toronto.

Just don't expect to see Burke rounding third and heading for home after the ball clears the fences.
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