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Maple Leafs Watch: Time is right to explore dealing Kaberle

Don’t look now, but as you read this, Tomas Kaberle might just be the best defenseman in all of hockey.

The Leafs defenseman – who led all NHL blueliners in scoring through the first month of the season with two goals and 17 points – was named the league’s player of the week Monday after leading all point getters with two goals and 12 points in four games.

You can make an argument Kaberle’s value has never been higher – and that’s why Leafs GM Brian Burke should be making some quiet-but-serious inquiries as to whether Kaberle would care to waive his no-trade clause and be moved to a real Stanley Cup contender in a trade that would help Toronto’s bumpy road back to respectability.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Geez, I’d love to know where The Hockey News offices are, so I could venture up there with a giant butterfly net to scoop up Mr. Proteau and deliver him to the closest psychiatric assessment center.”

I hear you. But give me a few more paragraphs to make my point.

Kaberle – a charter member of the notorious Muskoka Five group of Leafs who vetoed a trade two seasons ago that would’ve landed Toronto Philadelphia sniper Jeff Carter in return – could make even more fans in Leaf Land by agreeing to be shipped out.

He’s signed through next season at the relative bargain basement salary of $4.25 million – and at that rate, there’s no doubt some GM will pay handsomely to add him to their roster, either with some high draft picks (to replace the picks that went out in the Phil Kessel deal) or young offensive-minded players to add to Toronto’s rebuilding project.

As we saw through the first 10 games of this season, the Leafs’ forward unit is dreadfully thin and in dire need of a talent transfusion. A Kaberle trade would go a long ways to rectifying that.

And if Kaberle loves Toronto as much as he claims, he can come back when he becomes an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2011.

This article also appears in the Toronto Metro newspaper.

Adam Proteau, co-author of the book The Top 60 Since 1967, is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays, his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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