Boston Bruins defenseman Tomas Kaberle's ongoing struggles in the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs continued to draw media criticism this week.
Toronto Sun columnist Steve Simmons posted a harsh critique of Kaberle's performance in his short tenure as a Bruin and his lengthy career with the Maple Leafs, while ESPN's Scott Burnside suggested the hapless blueliner's play was not only jeopardizing the Bruins’ Cup hopes, but was also putting his future in doubt.
Though not everyone was jumping on the “bash Kaberle” bandwagon, as our very own Ryan Dixon recently suggested the beleaguered defenseman would be a better fit on a puck-possession team such as the Detroit Red Wings.
The Wings’ top blueliners - captain Nicklas Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski - are both aging and will have to be replaced by management at some point.
Kaberle is eligible for unrestricted free agency in July and likely won't be re-signed by the Bruins or brought back by the Maple Leafs, so if the Wings are able to afford him (they currently have $46.8 million invested in 15 players for next season) and assuming his salary demands aren’t extreme, he’ll be an option worth considering.
Critics will argue against this path for Detroit, citing Kaberle's age (33), woeful performance with the Bruins and lack of physical play, but it should be remembered the Red Wings have a history of saving the careers of defensemen.
In the mid-1990s, Larry Murphy spent two seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs and was considered washed up when the Red Wings acquired him in 1997. Murphy helped Detroit win two Stanley Cups and posted back-to-back 52-point seasons.
Brad Stuart's career was considered in decline after he bounced between the Sharks, Bruins, Flames and Kings in two years. But when he joined the Red Wings in a 2007-08 trade, he became a key member of the team and helped them to two consecutive Stanley Cup final appearances, winning it all in ’08.
JAGR, PENGUINS NOT TALKING CONTRACT
Rumors of former NHL star Jaromir Jagr returning to the league won’t go away and have been fuelled by Jagr himself, who is an unrestricted free agent after three seasons of playing for Avangard Omsk of the Kontinental League.
Jagr has mentioned he wouldn’t mind playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins again, which sparked speculation the Pens will try to bring him back as a linemate for Sidney Crosby.
That’s news to GM Ray Shero, though, who recently told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review he “didn't understand where all this came from” and said he hadn’t spoken with Jagr's agents. Shero said he asked Penguins defenseman Zbynek Michalek to extend an invitation to Jagr to attend the Penguins alumni golf tournament this summer, but “that's all there really was to it.”
Jagr, meanwhile, is believed to have had contract talks with several KHL teams, including SKA St. Petersburg, so his musings about returning to the NHL are either his way of teasing fans, wishful thinking, or an attempt to try to leverage a new contract from a KHL team.
FLYERS FORWARDS SAFE, DEFENSE ON THE BLOCK?
If the Philadelphia Flyers intend to swing a trade this summer to add a veteran goaltender, perhaps they’ll use one of their defensemen as bait rather than a forward.
CSNPhilly.com's Tim Panaccio recently conducted a review of Flyers blueliners and suggested either Matt Carle ($3.437 million) or Braydon Coburn ($3.2 million) would have value to other clubs. They certainly have affordable contracts and thus would be easier to move than expensive center Jeff Carter, whose name has once again popped up in the rumor mill despite his 11-year, $58-million contract.
SHOOTING DOWN ANY LINGERING GABORIK TRADE RUMORS
For those folks who still buy-in to the theory the New York Rangers will trade Marian Gaborik this summer because he cannot play for coach John Tortorella, Jesse Spector of the New York Daily News recently offered up a succinct dismissal of that possibility:
“Those who make such an argument apparently find it easy to ignore the 42 goals that Gaborik scored for a Tortorella-coached team in 2009-10, not to mention the winger’s no-trade clause and the fact that his value on the market after a disappointing season is disproportionately low.”
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.