First off, it should be a sad day in Leaf land as we all say good bye to Tomas Kaberle. It seems many people are unaware of just how good Kaberle was and still is. Here are some facts about Tomas Kaberle:
- Since Kaberle entered the NHL in 2008-09 the only defenseman with more assists than Kaberle is Niklas Lidstrom and only Lidstrom, Gonchar and Pronger have more points.
- Since the lockout only Lidstrom has more assists among defensemen and only Lidstrom and Rafalski have more points.
- Among all skaters, not just defensemen, Kaberle ranks 20th in assists since the lockout and has more assists than Vincent Lecavalier and Eric Staal.
- His point production has not tailed off significantly the past several seasons despite many people seemingly believing otherwise. He had 49 points last season and is on pace for about 52 this season.
- Only 2 defensemen (Keith, Enstrom) have more combined assists this season and last and only 8 defensemen (Green, Keith, Boyle, Lidstrom, Enstrom, Visnovsky, Doughty and Yandle).
That is pretty good if you ask me and while he had his flaws he truly was an elite puck moving and passing defenseman. He’ll be missed in Toronto.
Now, it is time to take a look at the Leafs future. What Burke has done the past couple years has actually been pretty extraordinary and for all those who have begged for the Leafs to go with the build through the draft method of team building here is some of the assets currently in the Maple Leaf organization.
- 2011 Boston 1st round pick
- 2011 Philadelphia 1st round pick
- Nazem Kadri – 7th overall 2009
- Luke Schenn – 5th overall 2008
- Joe Colborne – 16th overall, 2008
- Jake Gardiner – 17th overall, 2008
- Phil Kessel – 5th overall, 2006
- Dion Phaneuf – 9th overall 2003
- Joffrey Lupul – 7th overall 2002
- Mike Komisarek – 7th overall, 2001
- Fredrik Sjostrom – 11th overall 2001
- Colby Armstrong – 21st overall, 2001
Now we don’t know what Kadri, Colborne, Gardiner and the two 2011 draft picks will turn out to be, but that is what rebuilding through the draft is all about (and isn’t that what Leaf fans have been demanding). So while it may not be the traditional build through the draft, what Burke has done to the depth of young talent on these Leafs has been amazing, even if we haven’t seen the results on the ice yet. On top of that, the Leafs should have about $25M in cap space available for next season (though MacArthur, Bozak, Schenn and Gunnarsson need to be re-signed). Fear not Leaf fans, I believe good times are ahead, and not too far away.