NHL Free Agency: Where Will Tomas Kaberle Sign?

Tomas Kaberle appears to be the top player left in NHL free agency this offseason. After leaving the Toronto Maple Leafs to win the Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins, he’d be a prized commodity if not for his struggles in the second half and the playoffs. His agent claims Kaberle is entertaining offers and taking a few days to think. Does Kaberle have any enticing deals on the table? Where will Tomas Kaberle sign?

Favorites before free-agency began:

The New York Rangers were in the market for a guy like Tomas Kaberle, but they got their guy in Brad Richards and spent a bunch of money to do so. They probably aren’t interested in taking on another risk/reward contract like the one that Kaberle hopes to sign. Their offer, if it even exists, will probably not be enough to get Kaberle.

The Columbus Blue Jackets seemed interested, but have been very active this offseason. They haven’t made much noise in regards to a Kaberle offer, but they could offer a good price for the puck-moving defenseman.

The Buffalo Sabres were in the market for a top defenseman – and got one in Christian Erhoff. Terry Pegula is one of the least predictable owners in the NHL, but it seems pretty safe to say that they won’t overpay for Kaberle in Buffalo.

The Boston Bruins won a championship with Kaberle and didn’t lose many players from that Stanley Cup roster. They didn’t seem to interested in resigning Kaberle, mostly due to his ineffectiveness down the stretch and early in the playoffs. However, Kaberle came alive in the Stanley Cup and helped lift the Bruins past the heavily favored Vancouver Canucks. Why fix what isn’t broken? Talks are rumored to be in the works and if they can get him at a discount, the Bruins might be able to bring Kaberle back. Who knows – he might just have a productive season next year.

The Dark Horses

The New Jersey Devils need an offensive defenseman. Their blueliners struggled in 2010-11 and so did the team, failing to make the playoffs for the first time in what feels like forever. Kaberle would give them a shot from the point and a defenseman who can move the puck. Maybe it’s not such a bad thing to have Ilya Kovalchuk carry the puck from his own end every time, but Kaberle wouldn’t hurt. They’ve been quiet all offseason, maybe a Kaberle offer is why.

The Toronto Maple Leafs had Kaberle, and dealt him to Boston after mediocre production at a high price. There may be a bit too much bad blood between this organization and the top defenseman left, but Kaberle is actually a very good fit for the Leafs. They’ve made solid moves, found a goalie, and built a contender to make the playoffs in 2012 since moving Kaberle. His return could make them a real threat.

The Philadelphia Flyers are making some pretty ridiculous moves this offseason. They dealt two all-stars, one of which was their captain, and signed Jaromir Jagr to 3.3 million dollars for one year. They added an above average goalie and signed him to a lengthy deal. Maybe they did it all to make room for Tomas Kaberle, savior of the Flyers franchise.

The Unlikely:

Imagine Tomas Kaberle going to Montreal. Signing with the Habs would trouble Bruins fans more than anywhere else, and it certainly wouldn’t be easy for the Toronto faithful. If Kaberle wants to be hated by the teams he once played for, he’ll go here.

My Pick:

Honestly, I want Kaberle to head back to Boston. He was part of a commitment to winning at the trade deadline and paid dividends in the Stanley Cup finals. He had a miserable second half, has plenty to prove, and solidifies one of the best backlines in hockey. For the right price, Kaberle will be a Bruin in 2011-12 unless someone severely overpays for his services.

Mark Donatiello
Follow me on Twitter:  @FasterHockey ...read more

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