Done deal: Toronto trades Tomas Kaberle to Boston for prospect Joe Colborne, first round pick

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After two years of speculation about Tomas Kaberle being traded, it has finally happened. This time around, it’s a pair of dubious partners getting together once again to complete the deal as the Leafs have sent the blue line offensive specialist to Boston for prospect forward Joe Colborne, Boston’s first round pick in the 2011 draft, and a conditional pick.

The Bruins adding Kaberle to their blue line corps gives them the offensive-minded defenseman they severely lack. Kaberle will jump in instantly as their power play quarterback and become their top offensive threat from the point. This season, Kaberle has three goals and 35 assists and was Toronto’s fifth leading scorer.

That kind of production from the blue line in Boston would make him the Bruins fifth leading scorer as well and top point producer on defense. His 35 assists would also be tops on Boston’s roster as well. All told, Kaberle would be the missing piece they’re looking for on their defense and the freedom he’d give to Zdeno Chara to unleash hell from the other point with his slap shot. If other teams were worried about the Bruins before, they should be terrified now because Kaberle makes them a much more well-rounded team.

For Toronto, the package they’re getting from Boston is solid and manages to find a way to hurt the Bruins in another way. Joe Colborne comes to them as a former Denver University standout and former teammate of Tyler Bozak. Colborne was buried in Providence in the AHL because of the Bruins’ depth at center. He’s a big guy at 6’5″ 190 pounds and still just 21 years-old. He can play center, he can play wing and he’s got talent to burn. His stats in Providence aren’t anything stellar but part of that is due to the Bruins’ farm team being so poor this year. Through 55 games he’s got 12 goals and 14 assists but at Denver in his final year there he put up 22 goals and 19 assists in 39 games as a sophomore.

Getting Colborne also weakens an already soft Bruins system that’s mostly devoid of high-end prospects. While GM Brian Burke was being tempted with taking Blake Wheeler, he instead gets one of the very few top prospects left in the Bruins system and he’ll get a chance to flourish with Toronto. Getting Boston’s first round pick in the 2011 Entry Draft helps out as well since the Leafs gave their pick up to the Bruins in the Phil Kessel deal. It’ll be a much lower pick than what they’d ideally want but after the Kris Versteeg trade, Toronto now has what will be two late first round picks.

Burke getting as much as he did from Peter Chiarelli considering Kaberle is a free agent after this season is outstanding work by him. For Chiarelli, his next move will be to get Kaberle signed to an extension before July 1, otherwise they’ll have given up a lot for a minimal return. That is unless the Bruins win the Stanley Cup, then all bets are off. Those conditions also play into the conditional pick going to Toronto. TSN’s Bob McKenzie says that it’s a 2012 second round pick that goes to Toronto if Kaberle re-signs with Boston or the Bruins reach the Stanley Cup final.

Update: Deal is officially done as reported on the Leafs website.

Video: AHL goalie Jonas Gustavsson scores his first career goal

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He didn’t shoot, but Jonas Gustavsson still scored.

The former NHL netminder, now with the Bakersfield Condors in the AHL, scored his first career goal Friday, as part of his team’s victory over the San Diego Gulls.

From the AHL:

With San Diego goaltender Dustin Tokarski on the bench for an extra attacker and the Gulls working on a power play, Gustavsson made a save before an errant San Diego pass slid down the length of the ice and into the vacated net at 16:56 of the third period.

Gustavsson is the fifth AHL goaltender to be credited with a goal without actually shooting the puck into the opposition net. In addition to his goal, Gustavsson stopped 30 of 31 shots in the Condors victory.

Bolts and Islanders both win, which is bad news for Bruins

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The New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning each had to work overtime to decide their separate games, but when they ended, both clubs were victorious.

And that makes things even more interesting in the Eastern Conference wild card race.

With their shootout win in Pittsburgh, the Islanders tie the Bruins in points but take over the final playoff spot for now with fewer games played. The Lightning, despite an abundance of injuries all season, are just a point back of Boston and New York.

Nikita Kucherov scored the winner for Tampa Bay against the Red Wings. He’s up to 38 goals, which is second most in the league behind Sidney Crosby, currently at 42 goals.

Sellers leading up to the trade deadline, and without Steven Stamkos since the middle of November, the Lightning are in the thick of this race, even if others may have counted them out.

“Once again, people counted us out,” defenseman Victor Hedman told the Tampa Bay Times. “But we showed a lot of character. And we’re right back in it.”

The Bolts don’t play again until Monday, when they host the Chicago Blackhawks — only one of the hottest teams in the league.

Meanwhile, Saturday’s busy slate of games includes a showdown between the Bruins and Islanders. For Boston, it’s a chance for redemption after a particularly costly third period against Tampa Bay on Thursday.

What is wrong with the Sharks?

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Not that long ago, the San Jose Sharks appeared well on their way to winning the Pacific Division title.

On March 14, they had a seven-point lead on both Anaheim and Calgary. Gone is that advantage. Not only have the Ducks surged back into the fight for the division, but the Sharks have lost five in a row and are having a terrible time of late creating any offense.

The Ducks defeated the Jets on Friday, moving into a tie with the Sharks at 91 points.

San Jose’s struggles hit a new low Friday with a 6-1 loss to the Dallas Stars, a team with its own flaws and nowhere close to a playoff position.

At one point midway through the second period, the Sharks trailed the Stars by four goals and had only six lousy shots on goal. During this skid, San Jose has scored only five goals.

Earlier this week, members of the Sharks said they weren’t terribly worried about this losing streak. The losses, they had said, were in close games, which is true: San Jose lost three consecutive one-goal games.

“When I look at the losing streak, we dominated some of those games for long periods and found ways to lose. You never like to lose, but I’m not that concerned,” Sharks coach Pete DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “We’ve got to obviously end it. We’ve got to get healthy. I don’t see a bunch of symptoms of a team that can’t get this fixed pretty quickly.”

This, however, was a blowout. Adam Cracknell recorded the hat trick, pushing his single-season career-high in goals to 10.

The performance at one point forced DeBoer to take a timeout, in which he expressed his displeasure.

Making matters worse for the Sharks: Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic left the game early in the third period and was put under further evaluation. He didn’t return.

The Sharks visit the Nashville Predators on Saturday.

Halak and the Islanders defeat Penguins, move into wild card spot

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Quite a hockey game between the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday.

It offered plenty to enjoy — Phil Kessel‘s dominant but unfruitful shift in overtime, a combined 86 shots on goal between both teams, a showcase of skill from the likes of John Tavares and Sidney Crosby, and two strong goaltending performances from Jaroslav Halak and Marc-Andre Fleury.

Josh Ho-Sang, who wears No. 66, which is just fine in the eyes of Mario Lemieux, set up Brock Nelson‘s goal in the second period.

The Islanders and their fans probably aren’t hung up on style points at this juncture of the season. They just care about wins and points in the standings, and those are exactly what New York accomplished with a 4-3 shootout win in Pittsburgh.

Anthony Beauvillier and Tavares scored for the Islanders in the shootout. Halak made 37 stops, including a game-saver in overtime off Matt Cullen. Halak trapped the puck, which was right on the goal line, between his legs on a chance from in front. The play was reviewed but no goal.

The win gives the Islanders 82 points, which is the same total as the struggling Boston Bruins.

However, the Islanders, with one game in hand on the Bruins, take over the final wild card spot in the East for now.