In a free agency season where big, seemingly overwhelming deals are the norm, the Carolina Hurricanes signing of Tomas Kaberle to a 3 year, $12.75 M deal sticks out like a Cowboys fan in Philadelphia to me. Ever since my bet with our Cardiac Cane writer, I have had a number of conversations with Hurricanes and AHL Checkers fans, and continue to converse with them. Thus, I feel that I can and should give my opinion on this disaster waiting to happen.
Usually Carolina GM Jim Rutherford is a pretty shrewd, responsible, smart hockey guy. This time, however, he channeled his inner Glen Sather by signing the former Leafs defenseman who recently won the Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins. Even more confusing is the fact that Rutherford then shipped Joe Corvo to Boston for a 4th round pick. It boggles my mind that Rutherford saw fit to unload a $2.5M player to bring in a $4.25 M player who is a mere one year younger. And I would argue that Corvo would give more than Kaberle does at this point in their respective careers, regardless of salary.
Two years ago, Kaberle would have been widely sought after, but after his play this past season, I am shocked that he got a 3 year deal for more than $4 M per. He was brought in to Boston to be a power play quarterback, but that experiment failed miserably. Kaberle recorded only 8 PP points in 49 games with the Bruins, including playoffs. Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli said all the right things about how much Kaberle helped the Bruins, but his play was so ineffective that he was only sent out to play 9:14 in the deciding game 7 against the Canucks.
Putting all of that aside, I can understand that the Canes were under some pressure to get to the cap floor. I would not have been willing to pony up as much salary as the Canes did. I also think it was a lateral move (at best) by dealing Corvo to the Bruins. Corvo is a better skater, kills penalties, and unlike Kaberle, (who is more hesitant to shoot than Travis Coates in ‘Old Yeller’) is a willing shooter on the power play.
Kaberle’s unwillingness to shoot the puck is a huge factor in the ineffectiveness of his recent power play units, because teams don’t need to respect a shot. Opponents can play off him when killing penalties, effectively making it a 4 on 4 elsewhere on the ice. Corvo has his deficiencies at times, but even after he left Ottawa, I often pointed to him as the type of player the Senators needed as an instant “trap breaker” due to his ability to skate with the puck.
Corvo may be a year older, but given the path the two have taken, Kaberle’s career is on a steep downward trend. The Kaberle contract isn’t as bad as Wade Redden‘s in terms of term or salary, but this signing is comparable. Kaberle just seems too complacent and laissez faire to be able to ramp up the competitiveness (much like Redden) even in a new environment. If anything, playing in the Stanley Cup Finals should have brought it out, but I didn’t see it from Kaberle’s play throughout the playoffs.
This signing is so bad, I predict that there will be a buyout of Kaberle’s contract, or at the very least he will not be a Hurricane when the contract expires. You can point to James Wisniewski‘s contract as being excessive, but at least at 27 years old, he is a player who is just entering his prime. Kaberle’s prime is behind him and based on his play for Boston I see no signs that he can get back to that level.
And too bad for Corvo, who really seemed to enjoy playing in Carolina, although he apparently asked for a trade. He couldn’t handle the off ice pressure of being in a hockey market in Ottawa, and I don’t know how he will fare in another hockey market like Boston, where everybody knows your name. At least in Carolina he had some level of anonymity away from the rink.
Feels like a bad situation for both the Canes and Corvo. Kaberle will be laughing all the way to the bank.
Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.
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