Tomas Kaberle is going to be a name that in consistently mentioned as a trade target, as he should be. Yet despite the fact that he’ll most likely be traded this summer when his no trade clause is voided, Kaberle is insistent on staying in Toronto for the rest of the season.
Of course, there’s a chance that a deal comes across the table that could interest both the Leafs and Kaberle and he’ll have to make a decision on that. He hasn’t submitted a list of teams to Brian Burke, but there’s always the factor that he’ll have final say on any trade that the Leafs might want to make.
You have to wonder though, what exactly is his motivation for staying in Toronto? Of course, there’s the simple chance that perhaps he just doesn’t feel like moving in the midst of a season and doesn’t want to go through that stress if he doesn’t feel like it. With the NTC in his contract, that’s his prerogative.
But the NTC will be voided if Toronto misses the playoffs and there’s a pretty good chance that’s what is going to happen. So instead of having control over which possible playoff contender he’ll have the chance of joining, he’ll have zero control of where he goes this summer when there’s a strong possibility that the Leafs trade him anyway.
[Editor’s note: We thought we had locked the door. We’re not sure how this guy snuck in. We have alerted security.]
So with hockey — and thus the NHL — riding an unprecedented wave of popularity after the most compelling two-week tournament in the history of the sport (that sounds like hyperbole but it’s actually the truth), the folks who are calling the shots in pro hockey realize that pulling the plug on the two-week plug-pulling once every four years would be a huge blunder, right?
Commissioner Gary Bettman, in an appearance on NHL Network, continued his recent committing to not committing by calling the matter a “complicated decision.”
“When you get seduced by the two weeks of Olympic competition . . . you can’t forget the fact that this has an impact on our season and it has an impact on how our clubs operate,” Bettman said. “Lots of people are making a big deal of the fact that we haven’t said we’re going in 2014. We haven’t said we’re not going. There’s plenty of time. We haven’t said yes. We haven’t said no. We have said we will decide in the appropriate timeframe with our players association and in discussions with the [IOC and IIHF]. We haven’t decided and that’s not inconsistent with anything we’ve done in the past.”
So what’s really going on? It’s all business.
With the NHL and the NHL Players Association working on a new deal and the players uniformly intent on playing in Sochi when the Olympics reconvene, Bettman can point to the concerns in order to leverage a major concession or two (or more) from the union. And as The Globe & Mail recently pointed out (via SportsBusiness Daily), Bettman’s coy ploy is aimed at getting better terms from the IOC and the IIHF.
Still, the NHL’s decision to throw hot water on the ice by not committing to a return could be keeping folks who otherwise would be ready to embrace the NHL from making a decision on the matter until the NHL makes a decision on the next Olympics. By then, of course, the excitement will have died down dramatically — and hockey will have once again faded to B-level curiosity, a category in which it simply doesn’t belong.
The hockey landscape is currently abuzz with speculation regarding a potential Alexei Ponikarovsky trade after it was announced that the Maple Leafs forward was scratched from tonight’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes.
While a healthy scratch isn’t always a guarantee
that a player will be moved, it certainly adds some credibility in what can seem like a Wild West shootout of trade rumors. A handful of teams might be interested in the Ukrainian winger, according to The Fourth Period
“The Los Angeles Kings, Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators are among the teams to have serious interest in the 29-year-old.
Various reports suggest the Leafs are looking for a first-round pick in exchange for Ponikarovsky, though it’s believed Burke is willing to accept a second-round pick and a top prospect.”
On the plus side, Ponikarovsky brings great size (6-4, 220 lbs.), decent skills (typically around 20 goals per year) and is “usually among the most industrious skaters on the ice
.” The negative thing is that despite his dirt-cheap annual cap hit
of $2.105 million, he is an unrestricted free agent after this season. As usual with the trade deadline, it ultimately comes to whether or not a GM wants to sacrifice a piece of a team’s future for a rental player.