KABERLE TRADED AS LEAFS CONTINUE LATE SEASON SURGE!
The Saga has finally ended! No, this is not a review of the Star Wars films, I'm talking about the Tomas Kaberle saga that's been on again/off again for the better part of the last five years. Before the Kaberle deal, the Leafs sent Kris Versteeg to the Philadelphia Flyers for their first and third round picks in the 2011 NHL entry draft. As good of a player as Versteeg was, I think he is better as a supplementary player on a Stanley Cup challenging team. The addition of the draft picks, especially the first rounder fills a void the team has in that area. Onto the big deal. After 12 years of service with the Maple Leafs, Tomas Kaberle has been traded. The Leafs have sent the puck moving defender to the Boston Bruins for young prospect Joe Colborne, a first round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, and a conditional second round pick in 2012. Colborne plays the centre position, stands at 6'5, and weighs 225lbs. I'm happy with this deal because we get a good young prospect, and another first round draft choice, for a player who would have walked away from the Maple Leafs on July 1, leaving the Leafs feeling the Sundin syndrome all over again. For those still criticizing the Kessel trade and the amount the Leafs gave up, this should be great news. Since the Beauchemin trade, Brian Burke has brought in five first round picks. Two, for this year, Colborne, Gardiner in 2008, and Joffrey Lupul in 2002. Add to that mix, Luke Schenn and Nazem Kadri, and the Blue & White have a bevy of first rounders on our hands. Clearly Burke sees the value in them, and has a plan for the future of this team.
While Colborne will begin his career in Toronto in the AHL with the Marlies, the big club has continued their late season surge in search of a playoff birth. In the 4 games since my last blog, the Maple Leafs have gone 2 - 1 - 1 gaining 5 out of a possible 8 points to decrease the gap from the 8th playoff spot to 6 points. During this stretch, Phil Kessel broke out of a 14 game scoreless drought. He now has 3 goals in his last 2 games, a pair of them which came against his former team. Mikhail Grabovski also scored two goals against Boston, including the game winner with 61 seconds left to go before overtime. It was the combined efforts of Joey Crabb, and James Reimer who lifted the Leafs to victory in Buffalo, a place they haven't won in for two and a half years. The Leafs will look to continue to chase down a playoff spot when they face the ugly step-child of Ontario and Quebec, the Ottawa Senators on Saturday.