The curious case of free agent defenseman Tomas Kaberle

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For an unassuming guy, Tomas Kaberle always seems to be at the center of attention one way or another. While with the Maple Leafs, Kaberle was often the whipping boy for fans in spite of being one of the team’s top point producers on the blue line.

When he was traded to Boston and hailed as the guy to solve the Bruins power play woes as their new quarterback on the man advantage, he was criticized for not fulfilling those expectations. During the Bruins’ run to the Stanley Cup, however, Kaberle was one of the Bruins’ strongest players offensively on the blue line racking up 11 assists through the playoffs and ending up the postseason a +8 in plus/minus.

Kaberle’s seen the heights of being viewed as a top offensive-defenseman and the lows of being the team goat only to rally himself in vindication with a Stanley Cup. So how come he’s still available as a free agent? It’s a good question.

After the deals we’ve seen thrown around for guys like Christian Ehrhoff, Kevin Bieksa, Ed Jovanovski, and James Wisniewski, someone should’ve gone over the deep end for a guy with Kaberle’s skill set and expierence by now… Right? Not so fast.

WEEI’s D.J. Bean has the update on what’s up with Kaberle.

According to a source familiar with the situation, free agent defenseman Tomas Kaberle remains in contact with the Bruins and is also talking to multiple other teams, but it isn’t likely that he’ll be signing with anyone in the immediate future.

The source told WEEI.com on Monday that Kaberle is “not likely to make a decision until sometime next week.”

The Bruins continuing to have interest is nothing new as Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli made it known that he liked what Kaberle brought to the table. Hey, when you help a team win a Stanley Cup, what’s not to like? That said, the market for offensively capable defenseman as it stands now is wafer thin.

Take a look at this list of available unrestricted free agent defensemen from CapGeek. With guys like Bryan McCabe, Scott Hannan, Shane O’Brien, Steve Staios, Brent Sopel, and Radek Martinek available the pickings are slim for NHL-ready guys that can produce at this level. Of the guys available that can produce offensively, only McCabe and Anton Stralman really have those capabilities as they’re both solid power play guys. Kaberle’s run in Boston, though, showed he’s actually capable at both ends of the ice.

For a team in need, Kaberle can fill it and he doesn’t appear to be a candidate to require a monster deal to bring him in, although in this market you just don’t know. We’ll see him get locked up soon enough, but the fact he hasn’t already after being poised to be one of the biggest targets heading into free agency is something that’s still stunning. Perhaps after all the drama, Kaberle will end up being the sneaky surprise of this summer’s free agent class.

Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)

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Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.

Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.

McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).

Islanders grab precious points by beating Rangers

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The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.

They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.

The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.

Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.

The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.

The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.

Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style

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Rick Nash has his critics stemming from his playoff struggles in the past, but for those who support him, moments like these are satisfying.

Why? Because you’d be absurd to discredit how hard he tries when Nash scores goals like he did for the New York Rangers against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

Nash went all-out for his 20th goal of the season, sprawling after scoring against Thomas Greiss. It’s quite a sight, and Getty Images really was on top of that one.

via Getty Images

The Rangers may need more from him tonight, however, as the Islanders just went up 3-2. Watch the remainder of the contest on NBCSN.

Leafs pass Bruins for third in Atlantic after gutsy win against Columbus

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It wasn’t pretty – especially if you’re disgusted by that Roman Polak hit – but the Toronto Maple Leafs keep generating big wins as a playoff return looks increasingly likely.

Toronto managed a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, passing the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division:

Maple Leafs: 83 points in 72 games
Bruins: 82 points in 73 games

This leaves the currently in-action New York Islanders four points behind the Bruins for the final wild card in the East.

The Maple Leafs aren’t just grabbing key points; they’re doing so against some strong opponents who’ve had plenty on the line, too. They beat a Metro contender in Columbus tonight, the Bruins on Monday, grabbed an OT point against Chicago on Saturday and handled the desperate Lightning last Thursday.

This game was all about William Nylander‘s brilliant start:

And also Toronto surviving a long penalty kill after that Polak hit:

Nazem Kadri‘s 30th goal really put the game out of reach, helping Toronto nab a significant victory.

The Blue Jackets can wallow in this defeat and Oliver Bjorkstrand‘s injury, either, as they turn around to face the Washington Capitals in a big one tomorrow.