Thursday, February 18, 2010

Kaberle for Hodgson?

2009/2010 NHL Statistics
To VancouverPositionAgeGPGoalsPoints2010 Cap Hit2011 Cap Hit
Tomas KaberleDefenseman3261646$4.25 million$4.25 million
To TorontoPositionAgeGPGoalsPoints2010 Cap Hit2011 Cap Hit
Cody HodgsonForward20000In Juniors$1.696 million

An interesting thought was posted on the Hockey News website on Wednesday, which suggested the Maple Leafs could move Tomas Kaberle and land Cody Hodgson from the Canucks. It's just a suggestion, hardly a rumour, but its still fun to play with, because looking at it from the outside, this does have some merit in the franchise-building ideology.

First off, the Maple Leafs. They are in rebuilding mode and they have said that they are not keen on moving Kaberle, but cap flexibility that the team would gain in moving him must be somewhat appealing and a nagging thought in the back of Brian Burke's mind. In this deal, they would gain some flexibility for 2011 and they would end up with a former 1st round pick, which would ease the burden of having moved their 2010 pick to Boston in the Phil Kessel deal. After Hodgson's performance in the 2009 World Juniors and the OHL season, he has a serious upside to him, almost to the point of a franchise player down the stretch. In moving Kaberle, they would accomplish a lot in this deal and it could possibly give the Leafs critics a little less to talk about. We all know they won't shut up, but they would have a little less to go on.

As for the Canucks, they have pieces in their franchise that they can move in order to win now. The Canucks are arguably a top-two defenseman away from being a real contender down the stretch and if it costs them a big piece to do it, it has to be tempting for them. Kaberle has been very good for the Leafs this season and should provide a veteran presence and some extra blueline offense, which would make the team a lot more credible and would ease the pressure on players like Kevin Bieksa (when he returns) and Sami Salo. Moving Hodgson might be on the management's checklist, because they don't trust his health issues despite his offensive upside, so he might be a reasonable piece to move, since the price of winning now is quite high.

Salary CapAs mentioned, the cap burden on the Maple Leafs will be relieved of sorts in this deal, where they could end up saving an entire season of Kaberle's cap hit, if Hodgson was to have a development season in the AHL with the Marlies, which has to be appealing. In theory, this move would give a potential cap hit of $41.2 million for 14 players, which is much more relaxed if you added Kaberle's number in.

For the Canucks, they would have to absorb the remaining hit on Kaberle, which is likely just hovering around hte $2 million mark, which they could have in discounts from their injures this season. With both Willie Mitchell and Kevin Bieksa currently on the shelf for the long-term, they have saved some cap space and also have an open spot on the blueline for Kaberle. Then the question surrounds the 2011 season, where Kaberle has his deal in place for, which adds the $4.25 million on top of the Canucks' $42.6 million already in place for 13 players. That's getting awfully close, especially for adding another nine players and they have serious free agents to deal with. Having a piece like Kaberle does create some flexibility in dealing with free agents, but the won't cross that bridge unless they get there.

In the world where anything can happen in NHL trades, it's hard to say that this is completely impossible, especially for the reasons given above. Between Toronto not really wanting to give up Kaberle and Vancouver needing a second-line centre in their future, Hodgson doesn't seem to be a wise piece to move, there is plenty of reason to make this move for both sides. Two teams with different ideas when they want to win will need to make a move to achieve their goals and both sides are believed to be actively doing some talking during this Olympic Break... it's really, really interesting.

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