Tomas Kaberle

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.

WATCH LIVE: Stanley Cup Final Game 1 – Sharks at Penguins

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 30:  Pittsburgh Penguins fans sit outside of Consol Energy Center prior to Game One of the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the San Jose Sharks on May 30, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The wait is finally over. The 2016 Stanley Cup Final is about to begin.

Both the Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks received some time to lick their wounds after three grueling playoff rounds, so expect Game 1 to be fun, even if there might be a subtle bit of rust here or there.

The star power is considerable. The beards are burly (at least on the Sharks’ side). It’s time to get cracking.

Game 1 airs on NBC. You can also stream it via the link below and enjoy some “NHL Live” coverage leading in.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Vlasic on the unenviable task of matching up against Crosby

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 21:  Marc-Edouard Vlasic #44 and Sidney Crosby #87 of Canada look on during the Men's Ice Hockey Semifinal Playoff against the United States on Day 14 of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 21, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)
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Plenty of people believe that the San Jose Sharks’ defense is superior to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ personnel, but it’s one thing to be better on paper. When you’re on the ice, against a speedy and talented team, can you really stop the Penguins?

All signs point to sorely underrated Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic drawing the difficult assignment of trying to slow down Sidney Crosby.

Vlasic, a former Team Canada teammate of Crosby (as you can see from this post’s main image), realizes that he’ll have his hands full. In fact, he seems to believe that this will be an even tougher challenge than trying to solve St. Louis Blues sniper Vladimir Tarasenko.

The fantastic all-around defender isn’t exactly expecting to reinvent the wheel in his strategy against Crosby.

“It will be the same as in the first three series,” Vlasic said, via The Hockey News. “We’re playing against the top players on every time – Sid, (Evgeni) Malkin and those types of guys for Pittsburgh. Me and (Justin Braun) will just keep doing what we did, taking away time and space and hopefully it works out.”

The two players have had glowing things to say about each other for some time, but don’t be surprised if this high-level competition turns those happy thoughts into hard feelings.

It stands as one of the matchups to watch in what could be a fresh and fascinating Stanley Cup Final.

Red Wings look to future in net … a future possibly without Howard

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 07:  Jimmy Howard #35 of the Detroit Red Wings makes a save against the Boston Bruins during the first period at TD Garden on April 7, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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This summer looks like it could be one of changes for the Detroit Red Wings, even beyond the most obvious storyline of Pavel Datsyuk‘s future.

One area where the Red Wings would like to make some tweaks is in net, namely in trading Jimmy Howard. The Detroit Free-Press points out that GM Ken Holland admitted that moving the former franchise netminder “might be good for the organization.”

It’s reasonable to wonder what kind of market there will be for Howard, whose deal ($5.29 million cap hit through 2018-19) looks pretty tough to stomach on paper.

Maybe it’s best to consider the Red Wings’ options if Howard starts the 2016-17 season off on a strong note, or something of that nature. Perhaps an expansion draft could “solve” that problem if Detroit cannot find any takers?

The Red Wings remain forward-thinking and patient, which likely explains why the Free-Press focuses on their confidence with prospect Jared Coreau.

“In the big scheme of things, he’ll play in Grand Rapids for another year, but now we know he can play a lot of minutes if needed,” Goalie coach Jeff Salajko said. “Jimmy Howard played four years in the minors. We’re not rushing Jared, but he is going to be an NHL goalie, there is no doubt in my mind about that.”

In other words, a pairing of Petr Mrazek and Coreau wouldn’t just be a cost-effective duo … it might just be the Red Wings’ ideal scenario in the not-too-distant future.

Stanley Cup Final referees: McCauley, O’Halloran, O’Rourke, Sutherland

BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 13:  Referee Dan O'Halloran #13 holds up a face-off between the Buffalo Sabres and the Ottawa Senators during their NHL game at First Niagara Center on December 13, 2011 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Dave Sandford Getty Images)
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From the NHL:

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Pretty veteran crew, including three returnees from last year’s final.

Per the NHL, O’Halloran and O’Rourke will call tonight’s series opener from Consol.