Friday, February 27, 2009

Aurevoir Kaberle...For Now

Tomas Kaberle will be traded on March 4th. I guarantee it.

Kaberle, who's dawned the Leafs uniform for a decade, would be wise to waive his no-trade clause at the NHL Trade Deadline. This would allow him to control his fate, rather than have Burke decide it for him when his contract nullifies his NTC in the off-season due to the Leafs' failure to make the post-season this year.

While the Trade Deadline will limit Burke's options for potential suitors for Kaberle, his 4.25M cap-hit will make #15 a hot commodity for GM's looking for a puck-moving defenseman. While Burke has made it perfectly clear that it would take a significant offer for him to ask Kaberle to waive his NTC - a 1st round-pick, a roster player and a prospect to be exact - the desperation of GM's looking to bolster their line-up makes that asking price realistic - and by god, is it good to be a seller!

Reports have been circulating that Kaberle has given Burke a list of 10 teams he'd be willing to play for, but Burke shot down the reports, stating that Kaberle "has not given me a list of 10 teams he'd like to be trade to." While this is somewhat concerning for those hoping Kaberle is no longer a Leaf by March 4th, I don't think this will prove to be too much of a problem if GM's come a knockin' on Burke's door. Kaberle's intentions may be to stay in Toronto, but if a team, most likely a contender, decides to give in to Burke's demands, you can bet Kaberle will be aware of the benefactors for not only himself, but the team he's been serving so long. I found this quote particularly interesting:

"I want this clear, Tomas Kaberle made it clear to me, right to my face, 'I don't want to go anywhere else, I want to be a Toronto Maple Leaf'," Burke said. "He believes we'll get it turned around. He loves the city, wants to be part of the turnaround." (TheFourthPeriod)

While I admire Kaberle's passion for the Blue and White, this seems like the Mats Sundin dilemma all over again. Considering Burke's asking price, Kaberle must be aware of the talent and youth he'd import to the Leafs' youth cupboard by departing the team. Kaberle's contract prolongs to the 2010-11 season, so he'd be seperated from the Leafs for one season before becoming a UFA. Kaberle made it clear that he "wants to be part of the turnaround," but realistically, the Leafs won't start to rise in the Eastern Conference standings until atleast the 2011-12 season, when the youth they hopefully acquire begin to establish their roles for the Leafs' future. With that said, if Kaberle feels as strongly for the Leafs as he seems to suggest, then he should realize how much his departure would benefit the line-up, ensuring him a stronger club if he decides to return in the summer of 2011.

So basically, Kaberle, you have to choose. The red pill, which ensures you to play out the 2008-09 season, or the blue pill, which sends you to another team, bringing in loads of the talent to the Leafs' roster, and giving you the opportunity to come back a year later.

The choice is yours... (THE BLUE PILL! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Schneider Effect: The Canadiens' Power Play On Fire

Since being acquired by GM Bob Gainey from the Atlanta Thrashers last Monday, Mathieu Schneider has played three games for the Canadiens. The veteran defenseman already has two goals and one assist, all on the power play, and despite being -4 during that span, Schneider has played very well for the Habs, logging about 23 minutes of play per game.

With Francis Bouillon's long term groin injury, Schneider's acquisition is even more important for the Canadiens to get some stability on their top two defenseman pairings. Schneider has played with Andrei Markov, while Mike Komisarek has played with Roman Hamrlik.

Guy Carbonneau doesn't have to over-utilize Patrice Brisebois or Josh Gorges, with Schneider around.

However, the main beneficiary of Schneider's presence has been their power play. In 12 attempts over the past three games, the Canadiens have scored seven goals; that's a 58,33% rate!!

The Canadiens are now ranked 17th in the NHL after this recent boost. They hovered around the 25th rank for most of the season.

With a motivated Kovalev, an explosive power play and Alex Tanguay's imminent return, GM Bob Gainey will be in good position at the deadline to make the right move to consolidate the Canadiens' position as a playoffs team.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Senators Surprisingly acquire Mike Comrie from Islanders

Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray acquired centre Mike Comrie and defenseman Chris Campoli earlier today in exchange for veteran forward Dean McAmmond and San Jose's 2009 first-round draft pick, obtained from the Tampa Bay Lightning in August 2008.

Comrie, 28, has 20 points in 43 games for the Islanders this season. He played 41 games with the Senators in 2006-07, recording 25 points. Comrie, who is making $4 million this season, will be an unrestricted free agent at season's end.

Campoli, 24, is an offensive defenseman who is having a rough year in New York. In 51 games, Campoli has 17 points, but he also has a -20 plus-minus differential. Campoli, who only makes $633,333/year, is a very affordable defenseman.

McAmmond has seven points in 44 games with Ottawa. He has played on the Sens' fourth line for most of the season. He will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. The 35-year-old forward has played 916 regular season games.

GM Bryan Murray decided to help his rookie coach by getting offensive help. With Captain Daniel Alfredsson rumored to be out for a few weeks because of a fractured jaw, Murray acted fast in replacing Alfie's offensive output. Comrie should fit nicely in Ottawa's new up-tempo forechecking style, while Campoli will help Ottawa's transition game.

GM Garth Snow still has plenty of veteran players to trade before the trade deadline, such as Guerin, Weight, and Witt. Nice job getting a first-rounder for Comrie and an underachieving Campoli.

I do believe, however, that it's too little too late for Ottawa to clinch a playoff berth. The Senators are currently 13 points back from the eight seed occupied by the Sabres. They do have two games in hand.

The Senators will visit the sinking Montreal Canadiens on Saturday afternoon in a very important Northeast division matchup.

Rookie goaltender Brian Elliott will be in goal.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Canadiens and Thrashers Talking Trade

The Atlanta Thrashers are actively shopping centre Erik Christensen and veteran defenseman Mathieu Schneider and according to various sources, the Montreal Canadiens, among others, have inquired about the above players.

Christensen, 25, is having a sub-par season with the Thrashers, notching only four goals and eleven assists in 36 games. He was acquired with Colby Armstrong and Angelo Esposito for Marian Hossa and the trade deadline last season.

Christensen, 6'1'', 208-lb, is a shootout specialist with great skating abilities and soft hands. Earning only $750,000 this season, he is a restricted free agent at season's end.

Schneider, 39, is a power play specialist with a great vision and good skating abilities. He is having a rough season with the Thrashers, recording only eleven points in 39 games. He had a great season with the Ducks the year before, notching 39 points in only 65 games.

His high salary, $5.625.000/year makes is very available. He will be an unrestricted free agent at season's end.

Atlanta is reportedly seeking a middle-round draft pick and second-tier prospect.

With the long term injury to Robert Lang, the Canadiens have the cap space to absorb both players' salary.

Would you do it if you were Bob Gainey?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Bob Gainey Must Move, and Move Fast

With the latest long term injuries to veteran centre Robert Lang, winger Guillaume Latendresse and defenseman Josh Gorges, the Canadiens players are dropping like flies.

They will be joining winger Alex Tanguay (shoulder), George Laraque (back) and Mathieu Dandenault (wrist) on the injury list.

Latendresse is out for a few weeks with a shoulder injury that he sustained during Sunday's matinee against the Boston Bruins when he collided with Chuck Kobasew and fell awkwardly into the board.

Gorges is out indefinitely with concussion symptoms after he was vicously hit during Saturday's matchup against the LA Kings when Denis Gauthier nailed him with a vicious elbow to the head. Gauthier, who received a five-minute major and a game-misconduct on the play, has been suspended five games by the NHL earlier today for this behavior.

While Latendresse and Gorges were playing very well recently for a Habs team that is sinking fast, the injury to Lang is the most costly. Lang is currently leading all Canadiens forward with 18 goals and 21 assists for 39 points in 50 games. He also has a team-leading eight power play goals.

Lang's season-ending injury means Gainey must get help down the middle if he wants his team to be successful come playoffs time as neither Tomas Plekanec nor Saku Koivu have been able to pick up the slack offensively.

Youngsters like Ben Maxwell and Kyle Chipchura have shown the management that they are not ready to carry the offensive load in Lang's absence.

Who would you trade for if you were Bob Gainey?