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Why You Can Forget About A Kaberle Trade To Dallas (This Weekend, At Least)

So if you've been following along with the rest of the hockey world over the past week, you know that Tomas Kaberle's No-Trade Clause kicks in on Sunday and that Toronto GM Brian Burke will try his best to move the 31-year-old defenseman before then. All summer long, Dallas has been thrown around as a possible destination for Kaberle. 

At first glance, why wouldn't the Stars want Kaberle? He's an established offensive defenseman, having scored over 50 points in a season three times in addition to scoring 31 power play goals in his career. He handled top minutes on the Leafs last season, and finished second on the team in scoring. Kaberle played 4:29 a night on the power play, scoring 3 of his goals and 22 of his assists. He seems like he can fit into Mark Crawford's system well, able to lead the rush into the offensive zone and spark play. 

Now, personally, I've gone back and forth on wanting Kaberle on my team. But now, if you ask me if I would trade for Kaberle, I'd tell you no. He can certainly add some offense, but he's not exactly Chris Pronger in his own end. Just look at his penalty kill minutes. Six seconds per game on the PK. Not exactly a good indication he's trusted back there. Pension Plan Puppets outlined Kaberle's weaknesses earlier this summer:

Tomas Kaberle in his own end of the ice is terrifying. When he's on the ice opponents score more per minute than anyone else on the team save for Garnet Exelby and Jeff Finger. This is why he only goes on the ice when the Leafs have a faceoff in the offensive zone.

In the corners and down low Tomas Kaberle looks terrified and he's been that way ever since he was hit late by the New Jersey Devils' Cam Janssen. Three years later his injuries have physically healed but I don't know about mentally.

The idea that he's some sort of miracle power play quarterback should be dispelled by pointing to the Leafs' power play finished dead last in the league. Tomas Kaberle's staunch refusal to shoot the puck despite winning the All Star Game's accuracy competition in 2008 is obvious to everyone on TV and opposing teams know it.

Want to evaluate Tomas Kaberle's season? His expectation should have been something like; 1st pairing defender, PP QB. He's not a first pairing guy for the Leafs, and he's not our PP QB anymore. There's a changing of the guard and Tomas Kaberle isn't part of the core of this team anymore.

Sound like a guy you want on your team? But still, there's always the chance Kaberle just needs a change of scenery. We saw a glimpse last season of how going from a bad situation to a stable one can impact a player with the way Kari Lehtonen played down the stretch. I tend to think that coming to Dallas would benefit Kaberle greatly. The offensive weapons on this team would impact Kaberle's effectiveness on the ice. And maybe pairing him with Stephane Robidas, who isn't afraid of anyone in his own end, could help Kaberle mentally as well. 

But all that said, there are a number of factors playing against a trade to Dallas this weekend.

After the jump, the three reasons why a Kaberle trade makes no sense....

What Toronto wants is not what Dallas is willing to give up

Ever since Kaberle hit the trade market, it has been said all along that the Leafs would want a top-six forward for him. Even with the departure of Kaberle, the Leafs have plenty of defense left in Dion Phaneuf, Francois Beauchemin, Mike Komisarek and Luke Schenn. What they lack is offense, particularly at the center position. 

So that's where the Stars speculation comes in. It's no secret that Dallas tried to trade Mike Ribeiro this summer, and Ribs clearly fits Toronto's need for a top-six center. It makes perfect sense for the two teams to make the deal, right? 

Wrong. The Leafs don't want Ribeiro, they want someone younger. Someone like Jamie Benn. And they wouldn't stop at just Benn, they'd likely want James Neal as well. The reason is partly because of cap space. Toronto has $2,025,834 in cap space. If they traded Kaberle's $4,250,000 salary to Dallas for Ribeiro's $5,000,000 cap hit, they'd have even less cap room. Such a deal wouldn't allow the Leafs to take on anyone else, like a Jamie Benn. 

And trust me, the Stars are not about to trade Jamie Benn or James Neal for anyone right now, unless it's Sidney Crosby

Dallas doesn't want a potential rental 

Kaberle, like Brad Richards, is a UFA after this season. So really, any team who trades for him will face the possibility that they will only have his services for this upcoming season. And there's no reason to think Kaberle would want to resign in Dallas anyways. He's made it clear that he prefers the Eastern conference, and I'd bet that after spending so much time in Toronto he'd want to sign for a Cup contender. Unfortunately, Dallas is a season or two away from that being a real possibility. Brian Burke's asking price is high, and it's doubtful that GM Joe would pay that price for one season of Kaberle.

The timing isn't right

Right now, GM Joe is working on an internal budget. As we all know. The Neal, Nicklas Grossman and Matt Niskanen signings will not be counted against that 'budget' because Joe is betting on the budget being extended under new ownership. And there's no way of knowing exactly how much the budget will be extended. 

Remember, Brad Richards will still need to be resigned next summer. There's no telling if the new owner will be willing to pay top money to keep Richards AND Kaberle, who will likely want a good-sized number as well. Heck, there's no way of knowing if the Stars will even be sold by then. I think they will, but you never know. 

The point is, trading for Kaberle this weekend would make no sense, no matter how badly Joe might want the guy. The ownership situation is too uncertain for the Stars to add another high-priced, soon-to-be UFA player to the roster before any guarantee of incoming money is made. 

So let's summarize: 

  • The Stars would want to move Mike Ribeiro in any trade for Kaberle. Toronto wouldn't want him. 
  • The Leafs would want young players like Jamie Benn or James Neal. The Stars aren't willing to trade them. 
  • There's no reason to think Kaberle would resign in Dallas after the season. Dallas doesn't want a rental.
  • Adding Kaberle would require some kind of certainty that the new ownership will be willing to pay for him. Joe can't make a move like that at this point in time.
  • IF the Stars wanted Kaberle, and IF they were willing to trade Benn/Neal, and IF they thought Kaberle would want to resign, they still would not make a move until the trade deadline because of the reason above. There is no guarantee Kaberle won't be traded by then. Oh, and that's a helluva lot of ifs.

So, all that said, I'd put the likelihood of a Kaberle trade to Dallas this weekend at 0%. The chance he gets traded here at the deadline? 25%, assuming he doesn't get traded this weekend. Which is unlikely. And a bit unfortunate...I do think Kaberle would fit well here. But this is one of those situations where everything works against a trade actually happening.