While a ton of free agents have signed new contracts over the past 2 days, there are still some intriguing names that are still available. One of those names is Tomas Kaberle. In some ways, it is strange to see that he is still on the market; but at the same time, he’s not exactly coming off the best year of his career.
TSN has reported that several teams have expressed interest in Kaberle, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he signed today, as he is far and away the best defenseman that is still a UFA. The Habs are 1 team still looking for a D. Remember; they offered Hamrlik a 1 year-$3.5M deal which he declined. That tells me that Pierre Gauthier is looking for someone who can be a factor, not just a 7th or 8th D. Having said that, here are 5 reasons why I think the Montreal Canadiens should sign Tomas Kaberle.
Right now, Montreal’s top 4 on the blueline is Markov-Gorges and Gill-Subban. Those are 2 good D pairings, but my question is what if 1 of them gets hurt? Spacek has gotten worse every season with the Habs, Weber is still unproven and people can’t realistically know what to expect out of Yemelin. Kaberle would give the team 3 very good pairings, and he would easily step into the top 4 if injuries strike. As Montreal found out last year (as did Vancouver), there is no such thing as having too much depth on defense.
Montreal still has $8.3M in cap room, and with Gorges and White expected to take up a combined $3M, the Habs will have more than $5M to spend. They can certainly afford Kaberle both in the short term, and for next year if he wanted a 2-year deal at $4M per season or less. With Spacek and Gill coming off the books at season’s end, as well as Moen and Kostitsyn up front, Montreal has plenty of room for Kaberle, while also retaining enough space to sign Price and Subban to new deals.
Buy low, sell high
If Tomas Kaberle had a “normal” season for his standards in 2010-11, there is no way he would still be unsigned. He probably would have gotten a long multi-year deal at close to $5M per season from some team. Because he had an off year, a team can sign him for shorter term and less dollars, while still getting a defenseman who at his best, can still be an impact player. Don’t forget; this 31 year old D has put up 45+ points in 5 of 6 seasons post lockout and has missed a combined 33 games in those six seasons.
On the ice, the Canadiens have one of the better skating teams in the NHL, especially up front. Kaberle is a mobile defenseman who can quickly retrieve pucks and be an effective puck mover out of the zone for those speedy forwards. His style is definitely more conducive to the style of play employed by the Habs in comarison to the one used by the Bruins. Off the ice, Kaberle is known to be a low maintenance player, and he is also from the Czech Republic so he won’t have a problem fitting in with guys like Plekanec and Spacek around.
Piss off the Leafs and Bruins
Why not? The Bruins are still attempting to sign him, so Kaberle to the Habs not only improves Montreal but it weakens Boston by forcing them to go after someone else. The Leafs had Kaberle on the backend for close to 12 seasons, so why not keep him in the division to add to the rivalry.
At the end of the day, it is known that Kaberle would prefer to stay out East, so it is not unreasonable to assume that he would take a little less money to play for a team like Montreal. Considering his time in Toronto, being in the spotlight does not phase him, as he excelled in that environment for many years.
2 years, $7.5M, $3.75M cap hit, get it done.
About the Author
Written by Corey Krakower
I am the Director of NHL Content & Habs writer for ProSportsBlogging.com; I have spent 8 seasons behind the bench as a minor hockey coach; and I am the future GM of the Montreal Canadiens (according to my mom). I spend my days managing the Harrow Sports brand in my hometown of Montreal and I moonlight as a Hockey Advisor for Pi Athlete Management. Most importantly, I'll throw anyone under the bus for a laugh.