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The curious case of free agent defenseman Tomas Kaberle

Jul 5, 2011, 10:20 AM EDT

Tomas Kaberle Getty Images

For an unassuming guy, Tomas Kaberle always seems to be at the center of attention one way or another. While with the Maple Leafs, Kaberle was often the whipping boy for fans in spite of being one of the team’s top point producers on the blue line.

When he was traded to Boston and hailed as the guy to solve the Bruins power play woes as their new quarterback on the man advantage, he was criticized for not fulfilling those expectations. During the Bruins’ run to the Stanley Cup, however, Kaberle was one of the Bruins’ strongest players offensively on the blue line racking up 11 assists through the playoffs and ending up the postseason a +8 in plus/minus.

Kaberle’s seen the heights of being viewed as a top offensive-defenseman and the lows of being the team goat only to rally himself in vindication with a Stanley Cup. So how come he’s still available as a free agent? It’s a good question.

After the deals we’ve seen thrown around for guys like Christian Ehrhoff, Kevin Bieksa, Ed Jovanovski, and James Wisniewski, someone should’ve gone over the deep end for a guy with Kaberle’s skill set and expierence by now… Right? Not so fast.

WEEI’s D.J. Bean has the update on what’s up with Kaberle.

According to a source familiar with the situation, free agent defenseman Tomas Kaberle remains in contact with the Bruins and is also talking to multiple other teams, but it isn’t likely that he’ll be signing with anyone in the immediate future.

The source told WEEI.com on Monday that Kaberle is “not likely to make a decision until sometime next week.”

The Bruins continuing to have interest is nothing new as Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli made it known that he liked what Kaberle brought to the table. Hey, when you help a team win a Stanley Cup, what’s not to like? That said, the market for offensively capable defenseman as it stands now is wafer thin.

Take a look at this list of available unrestricted free agent defensemen from CapGeek. With guys like Bryan McCabe, Scott Hannan, Shane O’Brien, Steve Staios, Brent Sopel, and Radek Martinek available the pickings are slim for NHL-ready guys that can produce at this level. Of the guys available that can produce offensively, only McCabe and Anton Stralman really have those capabilities as they’re both solid power play guys. Kaberle’s run in Boston, though, showed he’s actually capable at both ends of the ice.

For a team in need, Kaberle can fill it and he doesn’t appear to be a candidate to require a monster deal to bring him in, although in this market you just don’t know. We’ll see him get locked up soon enough, but the fact he hasn’t already after being poised to be one of the biggest targets heading into free agency is something that’s still stunning. Perhaps after all the drama, Kaberle will end up being the sneaky surprise of this summer’s free agent class.

  1. homelanddefense - Jul 5, 2011 at 11:20 AM

    anyone who truly watched this guy play cannot say he played well. He is soft, the power play got much worse after he got here, and especially in the first three rounds played like a deer in the headlights and made a few goal creating turnovers.

    The Bruins flirted with acquiring this guy for years, then we got him and he was almost universally disliked within a month.

    • govtminion - Jul 5, 2011 at 11:34 AM

      Ding, winner.

      His point production looks nice, until you consider the turnovers he created to make life miserable on the other end. His big thing was that he was supposed to be the catalyst to help the power play, and yet it got WORSE after his arrival if anything, not really improving until late in the playoffs (and even then he wasn’t a factor). He doesn’t have a physical game, he doesn’t shoot- even when it’s painfully obvious that he SHOULD in some cases… and we gave up a first round pick for this guy?

      OK Burke, we’re even for the Rask trade, ha ha, very funny.

      I’d be fine with him coming back- for less money. But the silence on the free agency front surrounding him is sure interesting- means no one is interested in paying him what he wants, most likely. Not exactly what he had in mind for the big payday summer, I’m sure.

  2. ven9898 - Jul 5, 2011 at 12:13 PM

    Well said, both of you. I thought maybe I was the only guy who thought Kaberle was borderline awful for most of the time he was in Boston. Glad their are a few people who have some sense that read this stuff.

  3. homelanddefense - Jul 5, 2011 at 12:39 PM

    I also forgot to add earlier that his icetime was greatly reduced in the playoffs because of his bad play. He was 5th or 6th in ince time for defensemen for many games.

  4. mgp1219 - Jul 5, 2011 at 1:10 PM

    I agree with each of you, completely. Nothing more to add than he needs to go. Bring Kampfer back in. Even at his young age and lack of experience, he is a better puck handler, faster, and more physical than Kaberle will ever be. And then there is Bartkowski waiting in the wings. No need to bring Kaberle back.

  5. homelanddefense - Jul 5, 2011 at 3:38 PM

    I find myself scratching my head every time I read an opinion article from Yerdon. I get the feeling that he doesnt really watch much of what he comments on, he just looks at the numbers and goes from there.

    • Joe Yerdon - Jul 5, 2011 at 3:43 PM

      So hang on… I guess we’re still judging what Kaberle did during the regular season while acclimating himself into a new system and ignoring how well he actually played in the playoffs because everyone was too busy paying attention to Chara and Seidenberg, yes? Because that’s what I’m gathering from you guys here.

      Yes, he had problems after joining the Bruins. He made turnovers, the power play remained stagnant, and B’s fans grew tired of him fast. In the playoffs though? Solid in both ends of the ice. He earned Julien’s respect back and that showed in the minutes and situations he was put out there. The turnovers went away and against Vancouver he played fantastic. So… Go ahead, rag the guy out and call him a bum if you want but if he re-signs with Boston and helps lead them to another Stanley Cup, I won’t be waiting for you guys to come back here to chew him out.

      • mgp1219 - Jul 5, 2011 at 5:01 PM

        Yerdon,
        Not only is evryone in here but you right in what they say, you are forgetting that Kaberle is afraid of contact, and that is not a Boston Bruin. His turnovers cost theBruins at least 2 goals during the playoffs. Unacceptable. I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but I’d even rather have Wideman.

      • deepthreat - Jul 5, 2011 at 5:44 PM

        I don’t like ripping on a writer.
        It’s more fun ripping players – especially those on other teams.
        But come on Joe, open up the thesaurus.
        “solid” and “fantastic” are not adjectives I would use to describe Kaberle’s play in Boston this season.
        He was not solid in the early rounds of the playoffs – how about “pitiful”. I actually felt bad for the guy.
        And against Vancouver he was nowhere near fantastic – just “OK”.

      • homelanddefense - Jul 6, 2011 at 11:47 AM

        Wow, for a guy who gets paid to do this you are horribly misinformed. Here are his minutes starting with the eastern conf finals
        Game 1 17:29 4th for B defense
        Game 2 15:25 5th
        Game 3 12:41 6th
        Game 4 11:35 6th
        Game 5 13:06 6th
        Game 6 19:45 3rd
        Game 7 13:06 6th

        Finals
        Game 1 14:12 5th
        Game 2 12:25 6th
        Game 3 16:35 6th
        Game 4 16:47 5th
        Game 5 15:05 5 th
        Game 6 18:56 5th
        Game 7 9:14 6th

        Yeah Claude really was showing faith in him, playing him as a 5th or 6th defenseman. Even worse considering he was on the #1 PP line, I wonder how many minutes he gave him 5 on 5, I bet it was last for d in every game. “Lead them to a Stanley Cup” is a bit irresponsible.

        Fantastic against Vancouver, thats a good line.

  6. homelanddefense - Jul 8, 2011 at 10:39 AM

    crickets…….thought so.

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