But there was this defenceman in Boston who was ushered out of Toronto, and was one of the lone valuable UFAs still somehow on the market five days into free agency. What was his name again? Tomas Kaberle? Yeah, that’s it. He needed a change of scenery, or so we were told, and when that scenery changed, Lord Stanley’s mug was sitting in the beautifully lush Boston grass.
Now the scenery surrounding Kaberle has changed once again, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger, who uses exclamation points liberally!!!
To clear cap space for Kaberle the Hurricanes sent Joe Corvo to Boston for a fourth-round pick in 2012. Kaberle’s replacement on the Bruins’ blue line comes at a much cheaper price ($2.25 million annually) and nearly equaled Kaberle’s offence last year, scoring 40 points.
The instinctive initial reaction to this deal is to underline Kaberle’s eight powerplay points for the Bruins over 58 games–a paltry pace for a supposed powerplay quarterback–as the reason for his plateau on the open market. This signing gives Kaberle a cap hit of $4.25 million annually, which is the exact same value he held with his recently expired contract.
Sure, Kaberle tailed off once he donned the Boston bumblebee suit, but a number of factors may have contributed to his demise, namely the absence of Marc Savard on the powerplay. He still chipped in with 11 assists during the Bruins’ championship run.
Even if we’re justifiably scared by Kaberle’s drop after the move to Boston and particularly his lack of powerplay prowess, a 58-game stumble is a small sample size to use while assessing a defenceman who still scored 47 points in the regular season to finish eighth overall in defensive scoring. Kaberle has also scored at least 45 points in five of his last six seasons.
The Hurricanes were the beneficiaries of Kaberle’s late season slump. The open market deemed him a stagnant player, with his value plateauing. After other offensive defencemen with a far inferior history of production signed lucrative contracts for either a higher dollar figure or term (James Wisniewski’s $5.5 million cap hit is the former, while Christian Ehrhoff’s 10-year deal is the latter) Carolina seized an opportunity and pounced on Kaberle.
Since he’s 33 years old and should still have productive years ahead, the cap hit combined with the term make this a very low risk deal for a defenceman who was considered to be an elite offensive performer a short time ago, and could soon return to that level. He’ll feel right at home too while playing under former Leafs head coach Paul Maurice, and alongside fellow blue-and-white castoffs Alexei Ponikarovsky and Tim Brent.
Now it’s time for the real question though. With all the major UFAs signed, what the hell are we going to write about until October? The season should last until August so that we only have a few weeks of hockey nothingness.
Awarding the cup in mid-June is way too soon.