Not saying it’s going to happen, but one interesting rumor making the rounds would have the Toronto Maple Leafs trading defenseman and leading scorer Tomas Kaberle to the Vancouver Canucks for prospect Cody Hodgson, who has finally overcome his back problems and is playing well for the Brampton Battalion of the Ontario League.
Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke has said he does not plan to approach Kaberle to waive his no-trade clause prior to the March 3 trade deadline, but that clause is rescinded from after the draft until Aug. 15 if the Maple Leafs don’t make the playoffs. So if the potential for a trade with the Canucks were to materialize, Kaberle would have some control over his destiny by agreeing to a deal prior to the deadline, ensuring he would be going to a playoff-bound team with a good future rather than facing the uncertainty of being dealt to any one of the 28 other teams during the summer.
The Canucks already have three good offensive producers on the blueline in Christian Ehrhoff, Alex Edler and Sami Salo who are all under contract beyond this season. It’s worth questioning whether the Canucks would make themselves any better by acquiring Kaberle, unless they intend to move a defenseman to acquire more help up front. Of their current defensemen, only Willie Mitchell and Salo have no-trade clauses in their contracts.
From a Maple Leafs perspective, the deal would make much more sense. Chances are, Kaberle will ultimately be traded anyway and if the Leafs could get Hodgson, it would give them another prospect and help fill the hole created by losing their first round picks in the 2010 and 2011 drafts.
And while Hodgson has not complained, there are those who believe he would not be shattered if the Canucks were to deal his rights. The problems began in training camp when Hodgson either suffered or exacerbated a back injury, depending on which side you take on the issue. Hodgson played six pre-season games in an effort to make the team, but was returned to junior hockey after training camp. The injury put his season in jeopardy and forced him to sit out the World Junior Championship.
It’s also believed Hodgson is not thrilled the Canucks essentially called his character into question. In fact, Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said during camp that Hodgson did not play hurt during the pre-season and might be trying to blame a summer back injury for his disappointing performance in training camp.
Since returning to the Brampton lineup, the 10th overall selection in the 2008 draft has two goals and seven points in six games.
IS THE ICE TILTED?
It’s too early to consider pulling the plug on women’s hockey in the Olympics because of the competitive imbalance that exists, but there’s something wrong when USA goes through its first two games knowing it would have won both of them without a goaltender.
That’s because the Americans gave up just seven shots in each of their first two games, a 12-1 win over China and a 13-0 drubbing of Russia. Canada could have done without a goaltender in its first game against Slovakia and still would have won by an 18-9 score.
The reality is the men’s game took just as much time for countries other than Canada and USA to be competitive when it started in the Olympics. But the modern-day reality is the Olympics are much bigger and more exposed now than they were then and it’s doubtful the International Olympic Committee will stand for a string of blowouts by two teams indefinitely.
SONS OF GUNS
Taped the Canada-Norway game Tuesday night and took the opportunity to catch a minor midget playoff doubleheader in the Greater Toronto Hockey League. One game had the Toronto Young Nats playing the Mississauga Reps, while the second game pitted the Toronto Jr. Canadiens and Toronto Marlies.
Lots of OHL scouts and agents were in attendance, but more importantly, there were plenty of NHL bloodlines on the ice. The Mississauga team is coached by former NHL goalie Frank Pietrangelo and the goaltending duties are handled by his son, Dylan. Dylan Corson, son of former NHLer Shayne, plays for the Marlies, as does defenseman Adam Pelech, who is the nephew of Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis. The Jr. Canadiens team features a winger by the name of Taylor Joseph – who is the son of recently retired goalie Curtis Joseph – and a skilled forward in Cody Bradley, who is the son of former NHLer Brian Bradley.
One of the most promising players on the ice, however, was Brandon Robinson of the Mississauga Reps, a 1995-born player who was called up for the game from the Reps bantam team. Robinson will likely be a high pick in the 2011 OHL draft. His father, Kevin, was drafted 99th overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in 1983 and played briefly in the defunct International League.
Ken Campbell, author of the book Habs Heroes, is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog will appear Wednesdays and Fridays and his column, Campbell’s Cuts, appears Mondays.
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