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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    It sounds like Troy Brouwer would love to return to the Blues

    DALLAS, TX - MAY 07:  Troy Brouwer #36 of the St. Louis Blues celebrates with Robby Fabbri #15 of the St. Louis Blues after scoring a goal against Kari Lehtonen #32 of the Dallas Stars in the second period in Game Five of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at American Airlines Center on May 7, 2016 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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    How much is Troy Brouwer‘s magical postseason run worth to the St. Louis Blues or some other team in free agency? How important is comfort and familiarity to Troy Brouwer?

    Those seem to be the most important bigger-picture questions, although from the sound of Brouwer’s comments, nuts-and-bolts issues may decide his future in or outside of St. Louis.

    Brouwer raved about his time with the Blues as the team spoke with the media to close out the 2015-16 season. The power forward seemed very happy about his living conditions and the way his style fits with this blue collar team.

    Even so, Brouwer also admits that “it’s a business.”

    That’s typical talk, yet it was more interesting when he went a little deeper, acknowledging that he understands that GM Doug Armstrong must ask questions about more than just the 2016-17 season.

    His playoff production was fantastic, but a smart GM will realize that it probably wasn’t sustainable. Case in point, facts like these:

    Even so, Brouwer brings considerable value if you keep expectations in check.

    While he fell a little bit short this season with 18, he generally falls in the 20-goal range each year. He’s one of those players who can bring some grit to the table without totally taking away from your team in other ways.

    Brouwer was one of the Blues’ top penalty-killing forwards to boot.

    It wouldn’t be the least bit surprising for Brouwer to enjoy a healthy raise from his expired $3.67 million cap hit, yet you must wonder how much. Maybe most importantly, what kind of term is he looking for?

    That last question might just be pivotal regarding a possible return to the Blues. Would he sacrifice some stability to try to make another run with St. Louis?

    Even if he isn’t that old at 30, his rugged style might mean that this is one of his last opportunities for a big payday.

    Both sides face a tough call, yet it sounds like a reunion is at least plausible.

    Related

    Tough questions await the Blues

    David Backes would prefer to return, too

    Trio of Pens forwards take maintenance day on Saturday

    TAMPA, FL - MAY 24:  Chris Kunitz #14 of the Pittsburgh Penguins shoots the puck against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 24, 2016 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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    The Pittsburgh Penguins are about as healthy as you can be at this stage of the game. Outside of Trevor Daley (ankle), who’s done for the playoffs, the Pens have their desired roster at their disposal. That doesn’t mean that certain veterans don’t need a little bit of time to recuperate from the grind of the first three rounds.

    On Saturday, Nick Bonino, Matt Cullen and Chris Kunitz didn’t participate in practice. Coach Mike Sullivan confirmed that each player had taken a maintenance day.

    The 36-year-old Kunitz and 39-year-old Cullen have surely picked up some bumps and bruises throughout the postseason, while Bonino might still feel the effects of a shot block from Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

    Not to worry Penguins fans, Sullivan says that each player should be available for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night.

    Related:

    Pens enter Stanley Cup Final as favorites: online bookmaker

    Need for speed: Sharks, Pens brace for ‘fast hockey’ in Stanley Cup Final

    Pittsburgh’s run fueled by ‘Baby Pens’

    ‘No question,’ David Backes wants to stay in St. Louis

    ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 17:  David Backes #42 of the St. Louis Blues looks on in Game Two of the Western Conference Final against the San Jose Sharks during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 17, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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    We don’t always get what we want…but we try.

    In David Backes‘ case, he’d like to remain a member of the St. Louis Blues going forward. It might be difficult to make the numbers work, but the two sides will give it a go.

    Backes, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st, scored 21 goals and 45 points in 79 games in 2015-16. The 32-year-old added seven goals and 14 points in 20 postseason games before the Blues were eliminated by the Sharks in the Western Conference Final.

    Re-signing their captain will likely interest the Blues, but can they make it work under the salary cap? St. Louis also has to re-sign RFA Jaden Schwartz and fellow UFA Troy Brouwer this off-season.

    The Blues might have to pick between keeping Brouwer or Backes and that might not work in Backes’ favor. Brouwer is younger, and the fact that St. Louis gave up T.J. Oshie for him just last year could also play a factor in their decision.

    Even if St. Louis doesn’t bring back role players like Steve Ott, Kyle Brodziak and Scottie Upshall, they still need to have other players fill those spots on their third and fourth lines, which will eat into their limited cap space.

    If they want to make room for Backes and/or Brouwer, the Blues may have to part ways with a defenseman like Kevin Shattenkirk (one year left at $4.25 million).

    It looks like the Blues might be looking for a new captain in 2016-17.

    ‘It was a lot of ups and downs’: Pekka Rinne’s frustrating 2015-16 season

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    The 2015-16 season won’t go down as the best year of Pekka Rinne‘s career. Rinne started the season off for the Nashville Predators relatively well, as he had a 10-2-3 record from the start of the year through Nov. 17. He had given up two goals or less in 10 of those 15 decisions and it looked like he would have another fantastic year.

    That’s when things fell apart in a hurry.Rinne went on to lose seven of his next eight games. His once promising season was fading.

    The 33-year-old’s season wasn’t all bad. He finished with a 34-21-10 record, but he had a mediocre 2.48 goals-against-average and .908 save percentage. His goals-against-average ranked 19th among goalies who played 40 games or more and his save percentage ranked 26th.

    It’s safe to say the consistency was lacking.

    In the end, his stick paid the price (top).

    “It was a lot of ups and downs,” said Rinne, per the Tennessean. “Personally, I wanted to be better during the regular season. I always have high expectations for myself. I thought that it was hard to get consistency going on throughout the season. I feel like I had a lot of good games, but then (an average game would follow) or something like that.

    “It was frustrating at times. Hopefully, my goal is to raise my level of game to where I need it to be and where I want it to be.”

    Rinne’s numbers didn’t improve in the playoffs (7-7, 2.63, .906), but he did feel more comfortable about his game overall.

    “I’m personally happy with how the season ended for me,” Rinne said. “I thought that I played my best hockey in (the) playoffs. I was able to raise my level of game and the way I played.”

    Is Rinne on the decline or was this just a blip on the radar? We’ll find out, but don’t expect a change of scenery coming for the veteran. He probably won’t be leaving Nashville anytime soon. He has three years remaining on his contract at $7 million per year and the Predators don’t exactly have someone ready to take over.