The sun is shining bright in Raleigh today as Tomas Kaberle and his three-year $12.75 mil. contract were traded to Montreal for defenseman Jaroslav Spacek. Joy and exuberance seems to be the initial reaction among Canes fans and I can't say that I don't blame them. Kaberle is a player on the decline of his career and has gone from unlucky to bad to dreadful over the course of two months.
Aside from the three year committment, Kaberle was hurting the team by taking most of the offensive zone starts for blue liners and doing next to nothing with them. When you are getting ice-time that easy, you damn well better put up some offense and Kaberle has not. He has nine points in 24 games, was underwater in terms of scoring chances and corsi for most of the season and was generally ineffective and not worth the $4.25 mil price tag. Yes, Kaberle was not getting any bounces going in his favor (team shooting a little above 5% with him on-ice) but he certainly was not playing well at all. With thee other offensive minded defensemen already on the team, giving Kaberle the cushy zone starts to do nothing was bringing down the rest of the team. GM Jim Rutherford was not going to let this continue for the next three years so he made the right move by putting him on the block and trading him. Now that he is gone, this should give the Canes more flexibility with their defense corps and Muller/Lewis can decide which players they want to protect.
The only downside to this deal? We get Jaroslav Spacek, another defenseman on the decline of his career (37 years old) and was playing extremely sheltered minutes in Montreal this year. Once upon a time, Spacek was a good all-around defenseman and even played on Montreal's shutdown pair for a lot of the 2009-10 season, but those days have gone by the wayside. He doesn't appear to be anything more than a second pairing defenseman, and I'm being generous there. That said, his contract expires after this season and the Canes could have some use for him as a third pairing defenseman should an injury occur. I've heard people say that "he can't be worse than Kaberle" and well...I guess that's true when you factor in each player's expectations.
Honestly, I wasn't expecting to get anything in return for Kaberle given he was a healthy scratch only two weeks ago and a possible buyout candidate at the end of the year but Rutherford managed to find a GM who would actually trade for his contract...and give up an NHL-level player in return. You have to give him some marks for that as Rutherford knew the Kaberle signing was a mistake and trading him to free up roster space and cap room for next year was a great trade on his part.
This is more of a bad deal for Montreal than it is a good deal for the Canes, though. Yes, getting rid of Kaberle's contract is huge but the return is minimal. The fact that Montreal traded for Kaberle is mind boggling. I know they have injuries on their defense but when you have a team that's already spending close to the cap, has three key players that need new contracts this summer (Gorges, Subban & Price) and yet, they decide to trade for a struggling defenseman who is due over $12 mil the next three years. They might have been better off giving Bryan McCabe a call and signing him for one year. My suspicion is that Andrei Markov's injury is career-threatening because I can not think of any other explanation for this. It is entirely possible that Kaberle turns it around in Carolina because, as I mentioned earlier, he wasn't getting much puck luck in Carolina but he wasn't playing well at all.
All in all, a good deal for Carolina. I expect more dead weight to be dropped in the coming weeks.