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Rumor time: Bruins close to acquiring Tomas Kaberle, dealing Mark Stuart to Chicago

Feb 17, 2011, 2:45 PM EDT

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The ongoing speculation about where and when Maple Leafs defenseman Tomas Kaberle will be traded has heated up to a level where it feels as if it will be done very soon and will actually happen. Today, TSN’s Darren Dreger reports that the Bruins and Maple Leafs are getting closer to a deal and says that “failing a complete meltdown” in talks Kaberle is all but headed to Boston.

CSN New England’s Joe Haggerty takes things a bit further today saying that the rumored trade package from Boston to acquire Kaberle will consist of Blake Wheeler and a draft pick. What draft pick it is is unknown but the Bruins have two first round picks to work with, their own first round pick and the one they acquired from Toronto in the Phil Kessel deal. The Leafs pick is most likely not available as it could ultimately be a top ten choice while the Bruins’ pick would ultimately be a mid-to-late first round choice.

Haggerty also reports the Bruins may be close to dealing defenseman Mark Stuart to Chicago for a draft pick. That deal would be to gain freedom from Stuart’s contract rather than to help the team. Stuart has been a healthy scratch often of late in the Bruins lineup so it wouldn’t create lineup issues with the team.

Chris Boden from CSN Chicago’s Hawk Talk updates me on the Chicago side of things saying that if the Blackhawks want to acquire Stuart, they’ll have to find a way to move some salary out of there. Stuart has a cap hit of $1.675 and have just about a $1 million in cap space to deal with.

One way around that could be to move Nick Leddy down to the AHL again, but the Hawks like what they have seen in him. Moving Jordan Hendry or Nick Boynton down to the AHL via waivers could also help free up the salary needed to get Stuart on board. This also means that there could be another deal moving someone out of Chicago entirely as well.

Adding Kaberle to the Bruins would be a huge acquisition for them as it would give them a power play quarterback that they haven’t had in a long time. Kaberle would ultimately free Zdeno Chara up from those responsibilities and allow him to be the big shot on the point rather than trying to keep everyone in line on the point.

Giving up Wheeler would also shake the lineup up a bit and with the recent acquisition of Chris Kelly from Ottawa, would help make more sense with how the Bruins line up their forwards. Wheeler has bounced between playing the wing and center this season and while he’s got a load of talent, he goes through bouts of inconsistency in his play. He’s still very young (24 years-old) and can ultimately put it all together but to this point he’s not lived up to the hype befitting a former top five pick in the NHL draft.

Whether or not we’ll see any action on these players soon is unknown, of course, and teams are keeping everything close to the vest but we’ll certainly see plenty of talk about all these players before February 28th’s trade deadline.

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