The Real Value of Tomas Kaberle

Myles Dichter

The Toronto Maple Leafs suck. And its time that people realize this. The Leafs suck because their players are worse than the majority of other team’s players. This means that players that would be third or fourth line plugs on other teams, might be first or second liners on the Leafs, and therefore receive more playing time. If Leafs management is smart, they can turn and trade these middling forwards for significantly more than they’re worth, then watch as their overvalued players disappoint on their new teams.

We’ve seen this before in Nik Antropov, Alex Ponikarovsky and Dominic Moore (to his credit, he’s producing for the Lightning on their third line this postseason). For a few years now, there had been chatter about potential Tomas Kaberle trades. We’ve heard rumours of him going everywhere from Boston to L.A., and these rumours finally became a reality when he was dealt just prior to the deadline to the Bruins for a first round pick, Joe Colborne and a conditional second rounder.

Kaberle was supposed to be different than Antropov and Poni because he is supposedly an elite puck-moving defenceman. Another offensive defensive who has taken a ton of criticism for playing subpar defense is the Capitals Mike Green. Probably the best point-scoring defenseman in the league, he was held off the Canadian Olympic roster because of his many defensive deficiencies. Having watched both players play, I can tell you that Kaberle isn’t so much better than Green defensively. Neither seem to know what they’re doing in the defensive zone, and always seem to be caught out of position at the worst of times. The fact that Green was left off Team Canada illustrates how important defense is. Green was putting up record offensive numbers for a defenseman, but Steve Yzerman chose to leave him off the team. That is quite the statement.

On the offensive side, Kaberle hasn’t scored more than 10 goals in a season since 2006/07. Sure, he’s a decent anchor for a powerplay, but his unwillingness to shoot makes him a lot less valuable than most people realize. In fact, I think you could even attribute Dion Phaneuf’s strong end to the season to Kaberle not being there to man the point with him on the man-advantage. Since a guy like Carl Gunnarsson is more of a threat to shoot, the wingers must pay attention to both d-men and not just Phaneuf. Not coincidentally, the Leafs play also dramatically improved once they were rid of Kaberle.

Why am I writing all this? Well, it seems to me that lately Kaberle has taken a lot of heat in the media for not living up to expectations in Boston. While that may be true, maybe Boston’s expectations of Kaberle were too high to begin with. At the end of the day, he is just a power play specialist who won’t shoot and a defenseman who can’t play defense.

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  • Not really.  On May 19, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    So you’re saying that Grabbo, Kulemin, MacArthur, Kessel, Bozak and Lupul would all be borderline NHL players on most teams in the NHL? NAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH

  • Not really.  On May 19, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    So you’re saying that Grabbo, Kulemin, MacArthur, Kessel, Bozak and Lupul would all be borderline NHL players on most teams in the NHL? NAAAAAAAAHHHHH

  • Warren Kosoy  On May 25, 2011 at 9:02 am

    Myles, this article is wrong in so many ways

    First of all, the Leafs don’t suck. They’re the 2nd youngest team in the NHL and have a solid core of defensemen, and they are one of 2-3 teams with 3 30 goal scorers. (Grabo had 29 fine) Grabo did however have a +14 rating. Asides from Bozak and Lupul, all 4 players on the top 2 lines would be on top 2 lines on other teams.. not 3rd or 4th line “plugs”. Teams like Phoenix and Nashville don’t have ONE thirty goal scorer and theyre playoff teams. I don’t know how you can call 4 60+ point scorers 3rd to 4th line plugs. Also to compare the top 6 players on the leafs to NIK ANTROPOV and Ponikarovsky is ridiculous. Those 2 players were what you call “plugs”. Antropov had only had more than 50 points once in his long tenure with the leafs, and ponikarovsky had 60 points once and didn’t get over 45 points in any other year.. i know i shouldn’t only judge a player on points. They were both defensively average and didn’t play with heart and passion and were both always hurt.

    Phil Kessel is an exciting player to watch and can undress any defenseman at any time. Mikhail came back after getting crushed by Chara and looking concust and scored maybe the goal of the year with a minute left. Macarthur quietly put up 60 points and Kulemin was great defensively and provided sparks with his North American forechecking and defensive play.

    Now to Kaberle. I know his time in Boston wasn’t great, but he is still one of the most under appreciated players in the league. Although the point production has gone down, he is a +12 in 40 games with Boston. That doesn’t sound like much of a liability to me. He is not as great as Boston made him out to be, but not as bad as you’re making him sound. Kaberle is not just a “powerplay specialist” and “a defenseman who can’t play defense”. I find it pretty impressive that he was playing against team’s first lines a lot in Toronto. And if they suck as much as you say they do, than how come he’s only a -2 with the Leafs. He is not as big a liability as you say. In fact, he was probably one of the better defensemen on the Leafs as he rarely gave the puck away and was the best defensemen to start a breakout on the team.
    Kaberle was a great defenseman and should not be talked about badly. Every defenseman makes a mistake and unfortunately, Kaberle’s mistakes are talked about far more than his overall excellent defensive play.

    As for Mike Green, he simply isn’t a top 6 defensemen who’s Canadian. He is better than Kaberle, but is not nearly as good defensively for the type of team Yzerman wanted to build. He did not set any records either. Guys like Weber, Pronger, Niedermayer, keith, doughty, boyle and seabrook are way better defensively and all provide an offensive touch. Green is the best offensive defensemen out of those guys, but his defense wouldn’t fit Canada’s shut down style

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