10/11 Salary: $4.25 million
11/12 Projected Salary: $4.5-5.5 million
Tomas Kaberle is one of the most interesting names available this summer. He’s going to seek a big contract and will probably get it. However, some teams may shy away after seeing his performance in Boston, which did not live up to expectations despite improving in the Cup final.
The 33-year-old blue-liner had 20 points in 49 total games with the Bruins (including playoffs), which translates to 33 points in an 82-game season. Those aren’t terrible numbers, but they are below par of what he did in Toronto. In 11-plus seasons with the Leafs, Kaberle was invaluable on the power play and was often their top rearguard.
Considering his experience and ability to post solid offensive numbers, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kaberle get a contract in the ballpark of Sergei Gonchar’s from last summer (three years, $16.5 million). The question is which and how many teams will be interested.
Teams like Detroit, Columbus and Colorado need a guy like Kaberle. Some other teams may join the fray depending on what happens with their own free agents. Could the Jackets make a run at Kaberle? If GM Scott Howson can shed some salary – Kristian Huselius, anyone? – then it’d definitely be a possibility. I would not rule out the Rangers either.
Five teams that make sense:
- Boston Bruins
Kaberle wasn’t the best fit in Boston, but the team would still be looking for a puck-mover if they part ways.
- Colorado Avalanche
Trading John-Michael Liles leaves the Avs with one, at most two, top-four defensemen. Only question is if they’d pony up the money for Kaberle.
- Columbus Blue Jackets
The Jackets are showing they’re ready to contend for a playoff spot again, and obviously need a power play quarterback.
- Detroit Red Wings
GM Ken Holland will be getting a defenseman one way or another. I don’t think Kaberle will be at the top of his list, though.
- New York Rangers
If the Blueshirts don't spend all their money on Brad Richards, Kaberle could help improve their power play.
Current favorite: NY Rangers
Dark-horse destination: Buffalo
Current projection: New York Rangers (4 years, $22 million)
(Ed. Note: Between now and June 30th, we'll be taking an in-depth look at 12 of the top available free agents.)