Tomas Kaberle's agent frustrated with Toronto media focus, trade rumors

tomaskaberle2.jpgWhen it comes to summertime trade rumors, the gift that keeps on giving the last couple of years has been Maple Leafs defenseman Tomas Kaberle. Even in spite of having a no-trade clause, Kaberle would manage to end up in idle chatter about being traded. When Kaberle’s no-trade clause opened up on July 1st, it seemed highly likely that the star blue liner was destined to be dealt and freeing the Maple Leafs of the final year of his $4.25 million salary. With the trade market being down and with interested teams not having much in the way of salary mobility, Kaberle has stayed a Maple Leaf and with his no-trade clause going back into effect on Sunday, Kaberle’s agent Rick Curran is getting a bit frustrated with the situation as Yahoo’s Nicholas Cotsonika details.

“The only thing that Tomas gets upset about is this,” Curran said. “For anyone who knows him, he’s a very quiet, laid-back, conservative young man. He has made it very clear what his intentions are. He wants to stay in Toronto. He recognizes that he’s a chattel, that he can be moved. If that’s the case, then move him.

“What he does not appreciate, what he does not enjoy, is being front-page topic of conversation every time Brian decides that he’s got to churn the waters a little bit in order to create a little interest.

“That’s fine. Pick up the phone and call your general manager colleagues. Talk to them about it. But don’t make him front-page news. He didn’t ask for it. He realizes that it’s part of it, of being a Toronto Maple Leaf, but don’t ask him to sit back and enjoy it.”

Yikes, them’s fightin’ words if I’ve ever read them. Obviously Leafs GM Brian Burke is familiar with fighting words and returned fire of his own. Cotsonika continues:

Burke seemed taken aback by Curran’s comments. He said Curran did not bring up these concerns when they spoke Monday. (Curran said he appreciated that Burke called Monday to give him an update. He said it was the first time they had talked since before the trade deadline. Both men go way back and otherwise complimented each other.)

“I will address [his concerns] with him personally,” Burke said. “I have no desire to escalate this. But the fact is: He drafted this clause. This no-trade and the timing of it, this isn’t my handiwork. I’m dealing with what I inherited. And so if he doesn’t like the fact that it puts his client in this position, he can certainly accept some of the blame. I don’t have to.”

Burke has a point as it’s not a contract that he negotiated. That honor falls upon former general manager and source of derision in Toronto, John Ferguson, Jr. So what are two sides that are frustrated going to do about things? They might have to deal with each other for one more year if Burke’s tall trade demands don’t come down. Burke has made it clear he won’t just trade Kaberle away to be rid of him and he wants value on any return in a trade. A Joe Thornton-esque 30-cents-on-the-dollar kind of deal isn’t one Burke is eager to make. Shrewd businessmen are funny like that.

It’s clear that the Maple Leafs have a glut of talent on defense and a remarkable lack of talent amongst their forwards so you have to think that a valuable player like Tomas Kaberle has to have some sort of value to a team looking for solid puck-moving defenseman. Whether those teams are willing to give up the key winger or centerman to help make the deal work out has yet to happen and may not happen at all. Still, should the Leafs end up hanging on to Tomas Kaberle, it sets up the possibility for a very awkward year in Toronto and the possibility of having to ask Kaberle if he’d like to waive his no-trade clause as the trade deadline approaches in March. After all, with everything that Kaberle’s gone through to this point and his apparent frustration with the situation, the likelihood of him re-signing with Toronto seems pretty low and getting anything for him via trade at that point would be helpful to the Maple Leafs.

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    NHL cracking down on slashing, faceoff violations to begin preseason

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    The NHL has made it a point to crack down on slashing for the upcoming regular season. With the preseason underway, the foundation for the new standard is being set.

    Dating back to late June, the NHL had vowed to call slashing more closely after a number of incidents last season, including Marc Methot‘s gruesome finger injury, which was the result of a slash to the hands from Sidney Crosby.

    Monday’s game between the Islanders and Rangers featured nine slashing minor penalties. The Devils and Capitals were only 41 seconds into their preseason game Monday when Jimmy Hayes was called for slashing. A total of six slashing minors were called in that game — not to mention three faceoff violations.

    From the Washington Post:

    There’s been talk of being harder on slashing following several wrist, hand and finger injuries last season from dangerous stick work. “Now, as soon as your stick is off the ice and you touch the other players’ stick or hands, it was zero tolerance today,” Eller said. More surprising was the three faceoff violation penalties called in the first period of the game. That also represented a new emphasis from the league. “Cheating” on faceoffs has been commonplace, and for centers who’ve made their name winning faceoffs with a certain style and routine, staying perfectly within the red lines in the circle was an adjustment.

    According to Mark Spector of Sportsnet, the Senators-Maple Leafs game Monday also featured three faceoff violations. It appears right now there will be quite an adjustment for players across the league to the apparent crackdown on slashing and faceoff violations, especially early on.

    However, will this be the standard for the entire season? For the playoffs?

    “I have a tough time believing that in the playoffs, in Game 7, that kind of call is going to be made,” Mark Letestu told Sportsnet. “Right now, there’s an overemphasis on it, and hopefully it doesn’t go all the way back to where it was.”

    Video: No. 1 pick Hischier scores ‘tenacious’ goal in Devils preseason debut

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    Nico Hischier, the first overall pick from this year’s NHL Draft, provided quite a glimpse into the type of player he can be for the New Jersey Devils during his first preseason game on Monday.

    The Devils recorded a 4-1 victory over the Washington Capitals, with Hischier’s goal late in the third period putting it away. For Devils fans at Prudential Center, this should provide a little more optimism for a club that has looked to upgrade its offensive attack this offseason.

    Hischier hounded Capitals forward Kevin Elgestal in the neutral zone, and eventually stole the puck while splitting two Washington players for the breakaway. In all alone, Hischier made no mistake, sliding the puck under the pad of goalie Vitek Vanecek.

    “His skating was a factor. He was competitive on the puck,” said Devils coach John Hynes, per NJ.com.

    “As the game went on, the second and third period, he started to make a few more plays, and I think he got adjusted to the time and space and battle level that was out there. You see the goal, he was really tenacious on the puck. He hunted it, had the second effort and a great stick to create the turnover. His work ethic put him in position for half a breakaway, and that’s when his skill takes over.”

    While Nolan Patrick had for months been talked about as a potential No. 1 overall pick, Hischier put together an impressive year in the QMJHL and when the time came for the Devils to make their selection, they went with the 18-year-old Swiss center over Patrick.

    It will be interesting to see exactly what role the Devils give Hischier this season, although the plan since the draft has been to give him every chance to make the NHL club right out of camp. Per NorthJersey.com, Hynes discussed the topic of Hischier in a potential top center role following Monday’s game.

    “Certainly he has the skills and the hockey sense to play in that role but is he really ready for that?” said Hynes. “We’ll put him in a situation that will benefit him the most and the team the most.”

    Video: Whoa, this is one sweet Mike Hoffman backhand goal

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    Monday’s game won’t help the Ottawa Senators defy critics about last season running on luck, at least in that it doesn’t count in the standings.

    Senators sniper Mike Hoffman didn’t seem to care.

    Hoffman owned last night’s pre-season NHL highlight reel (sorry Nico Hischier), scoring two very different goals.

    The best one can be viewed in the video above this post’s headline, as he burst through the Maple Leafs defense for a ridiculous backhander on the rush. Wow.

    His first of the night was memorable for a different reason, as Hoffman shook off a near-miss (eventually) to score this goal.

    Weird/cool/good, indeed.

    Prediction: Hoffman will score a lot of goals that will “count” in 2017-18, too.

    Wild extend captain Mikko Koivu’s contract for two years, $11M

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    Minnesota Wild fans fearing that the 2017-18 season could be Mikko Koivu‘s last can breathe a sigh of relief, and that suspense didn’t even carry into opening night.

    Instead, the Wild signed Koivu to a two-year contract extension worth $11 million.

    That $5.5M cap hit kicks in during the 2018-19 campaign and ends after 2019-20. It represents a minor cut in pay for Koivu, as he’s entering the final year of a deal with a $6.75M cap hit.

    Koivu, 34, enjoyed a strong first season under Bruce Boudreau, becoming a Selke finalist for the first time in his underrated career. He’s been Minnesota’s captain since 2008-09.

    Koivu’s deal would qualify as a 35+ contract, according to Cap Friendly.

    The Finnish forward likely valued stability, maybe taking a little less in AAV for the sake of peace of mind.

    This continues a busy week-or-so for the Wild, who also broke their impasse with RFA Marcus Foligno by handing him a four-year, $11.5M deal.

    Opinion: this Koivu deal is a much, much easier decision to justify, even taking into account his advanced age.