Tomas Kaberle and Ron Wilson not getting along

Kaberle.jpgIt feels like there have been rumors about Tomas Kaberle leaving the Maple Leafs since the team went from disappointing to lottery fodder, but perhaps the exodus will happen voluntarily (instead of via trade as what is usually hinted at). Apparently, according to Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun, Kaberle and coach Ron Wilson aren’t getting along and that might finally push out the Leafs’ smooth defenseman.

The historically quiet and almost non-combative defenceman has told old friends he “can’t stand playing for Wilson” and as much as he has loved playing for the Leafs and living in Toronto throughout his National Hockey League career, even through five straight seasons out of the playoffs, he is prepared to move on because he is unhappy with the manner in which Wilson coaches the Leafs and the lack of respect he shows for the players.

“He’s had enough,” a good friend said. “He’s at his wit’s end with the guy.”

And the feeling, in fact, may be mutual.

The latest shot fired by Wilson came Tuesday after the Leafs lost to the Atlanta Thrashers. After the game, almost unsolicited, Wilson singled out his defence for the defeat, in particular he pointed in the direction of Kaberle and Francois Beauchemin, whom he didn’t name but identified by their high plus-minus figures.

One reason he might (finally) be traded from the Maple Leafs is the fact that his no trade clause is about to expire. He’s also going to be an unrestricted free agent after next season, so expect the seemingly eternal Kaberle trade talk to heat up even more.

His $4.25 million cap hit is reasonable and even if he’s far from perfect in his own end, there’s no denying that the puck moving defenseman can put up points. The question is, will he be doing that for the Leafs next season?

Larkin will start season with Red Wings

Dylan Larkin
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Dylan Larkin — despite being just 19 years old — will begin the season on the Detroit Red Wings, a team not normally accustomed to having teenagers in the lineup.

Coach Jeff Blashill confirmed the news this morning. Larkin could apparently start on a line with Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader.

Larkin, the 15th overall pick in the 2014 draft, had three goals and one assist in five preseason games. A natural center, he’s shown the potential to one day step into the kind of “big-time” role that Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk have played for so long in Detroit.

“You have to give our scouts credit,” former coach Mike Babcock told ESPN in May. “We got a great pick where we picked. How high end is he? How soon?”

Related: Coaching change ‘one of the reasons’ Larkin signed with Wings

Preseason stats: Five goalies with good numbers, five goalies with…not

Anders Nilsson
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Yeah, yeah, it’s a small sample size and it’s just the preseason, but here are some goaltending stats anyway.

Five goalies with good numbers

Anders Nilsson, Edmonton — zero goals on 53 shots. His solid play a likely factor in the decision to waive Ben Scrivens, who actually wasn’t that bad in the preseason (4 goals on 56 shots).

Martin Jones, San Jose — three goals on 100 shots. The Sharks are rolling the dice on a couple of cheap goalies. Jones and Alex Stalock have a combined cap hit of just $4.6 million.

Jacob Markstom, Vancouver — three goals on 79 shots. Can he finally get over the NHL hump? If so, he could make it a real competition with Ryan Miller.

Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus — five goals on 122 shots. The Blue Jackets have scored a ton of goals in the preseason, but there remain questions about their blue line. Bobrovsky has the ability to make a so-so defense look good.

Anton Khudobin, Anaheim — two goals on 67 shots. A good early sign for the Ducks, who have Frederik Andersen in the starting role and want to give young John Gibson more time to develop in the AHL.

Five goalies with bad numbers

Thomas Greiss, Islanders — 14 goals on 94 shots. Has to be a bit of concern in Brooklyn. The Isles got below-average backup play last season from Chad Johnson. They wanted to fix that with the Greiss signing.

Robin Lehner, Buffalo — 11 goals on 95 shots. Tim Murray paid a hefty price to get the 24-year-old out of Ottawa. With the aforementioned Johnson in the backup role, the goaltending story is worth watching.

Jeff Zatkoff, Pittsburgh — 11 goals on 74 shots. Granted, Marc-Andre Fleury and Matthew Murray weren’t particularly sharp either. The Penguins conceded 28 goals in eight games.

Kari Lehtonen, Dallas — 15 goals on 84 shots. For a Stars team that desperately needs better goaltending, that has to be worrying. Antti Niemi wasn’t a whole lot better either, allowing eight goals on 65 shots. Fair question to ask — how many of all those goals were attributable to poor defensive play?

Pekka Rinne, Nashville — 12 goals on 91 shots. Has earned the benefit of the doubt, but thought we’d point it out anyway.