This must be prefaced with the following: its origin rests with HockeyBuzz's Eklund, so break out the grains of salt. And before reprinting it, I wish to say out loud that this appears to be nothing more - on the surface - than a load of bunk, designed to rile up a rabid fanbase which has lacked for real news since the regular season ended almost five months ago.
Despite the claim to the contrary, it simply makes very little sense from just about any angle you choose to dissect, and we'll discuss why afterward. With that out of the way, behold a whopper:
The scoring forward that could be headed to the Leafs is possibly 26 year old Toronto native Stephen Weiss or 24 year old Welland, ON product Nathan Horton. With Jay Bouwmeester departing to Calgary and recently Steve Eminger signing with Anaheim, that leaves the Panthers a bit light on defensemen who have significant NHL experience. It is likely that Tomas Kaberle is the defenseman being rumored, because putting him together with his former defense partner Bryan McCabe makes a lot of sense. Plus, Kaberle would likely waive his no-trade to go there.
- Mike Augello, HockeyBuzz
For a team like the Panthers - about whom media types and fans alike have been screaming "No offense! No scoring!" from the rooftops - dumping their leading scorer from 2008-09 or a two-time 30-goal man sounds like a surefire way to bump up the point totals.
Weiss? Or Horton? C'mon. "Laughable" doesn't scratch the surface. These two are long-term salary cap bargains just entering their primes. So Horts had a tough year...he's back on the wing where he rightfully belongs.
Even better: replace one of them with a defenseman, admittedly one with a scoring touch, rumored out of Toronto all summer. Why has he been the target of derision for LeafNation, if indeed he really has been?
Bryan McCabe is no longer there For a market which thrives on just so much rumor and innuendo, evidently GM Brian Burke hasn't made nearly enough noise to satiate the True Believers, so it's Eklund to the rescue, providing the bait (two local kids with immense upsides).
And why wouldn't Kaberle waive his no-trade? It's a second opportunity to shotgun McCabe. Ohhhh. That alone makes it "likely".
It's fascinating that the departure of Steve Eminger is mentioned as an example of how the Cats are "light on defensemen who have significant NHL experience". This is the same Eminger - former Pete DeBoer Kitchener Ranger - who played nine games with the Panthers following the trading deadline (1g). The Eminger who found it difficult to replace Nick Boynton in the lineup, after The Beach's celebrated "tiff" with DeBoer. Hmm.
Would logic not have demanded Jassen Cullimore's inclusion (and he remains an available UFA)? He of 133 games over two seasons with Florida? That's more than 9, right?
Whatever. Though Kaberle may be a perfect fit on the Panthers' blueline (and he is a tremendous talent), it's extremely difficult to imagine blowing up the team to do it for a guy making ballpark Weiss/Horton dollars and only two years left on his contract. And I do mean "blowing up the team": to give up on either one - right now - would be a serious miscalculation by the Cats and one by which the word "regret" would redefine in 12 months' time.
I've already wasted enough time on this fluff. The Panthers lack scoring, so swapping a scorer for a D-man is a wise, sensible move. Okay.
Big thanks to Chad M. for the heads-up via Facebook.