Friday, December 9, 2011

Desperation: Habs Acquire Tomas Kaberle from Hurricanes for Jaroslav Spacek

Yes, you read that right. Here's the press release for your reading pleasure.

In an effort to plug leaks on the good ship Canadiens, General Manager Pierre Gauthier pulled the trigger on a trade.

To the Carolina Hurricanes goes Jaroslav Spacek and coming back to Montreal is Tomas Kaberle.

What a brutal move.

Not only would Spacek have fetched much more come trade deadline day, but he was in the last year of a deal that paid him $3.83 million per season.

Kaberle, on the other hand, has two more year (after this season) left on a deal that pays him $4.25 million per year.

Not to mention that he currently has nine points and is a minus-12 for the year. Worse yet, since being traded from the Leafs to Boston last season, Kaberle has only 18 points (1G, 17A) in 53 games (with the Bruins and Canes).

Keep in mind that this is a player who was brought into Boston to help them turn their powerplay around last year. And how did Boston do during the playoffs with Kaberle as their quarterback?

Zero goals and 11 assists in 25 playoff games for Kaberle and a PP that went 10-for-88 (11.36 percent) over four playoff rounds.

Here's what the Twitterverse is saying about the deal:

Dave Stubbs, Hockey Inside/Out
"I keep looking for even a tiny upside to #Habs Kaberle deal and... I can't find one"

Tony Marinario, TSN 990
"Tomas Kaberle is soft. He cant defend anymore. He killed Bruins Power play last yr in playoffs. 4.25M cap hit until 2013/14. This is bad."

Will Martinez,
"So what's on the agenda for this afternoon? An extension for Gomez?"

Kyle Roussel, Cowhide and Rubber
"This trade is silly. Buys JM more time, takes on a long contract. Not only do #Habs resemble the old Leafs, they now acquire their scraps."

In short, this is a brutal move of desperation from a GM who is clearly trying to save his own butt. And that has been the fear for the last few weeks...that Gauthier would start selling off parts of the team in an effort to squeak into the playoffs and/or save his own butt.

This move sets the Habs back on a lot of levels but, also going forward. Not only do the Habs have to deal with Scott Gomez's brutal contract but they now pick up another.

The bottom line is that this is a huge roll of the dice by Pierre Gauthier. For this deal to work out, Kaberle has to return to his pre-Bruins form, otherwise this is going to become another albatross for PG to bear.

Side Note

The deal is possibly an indicator that Andrei Markov will be out longer. More likely, however, it shows that Chris Campoli will be back in the lineup soon.

Either way, if Gauthier et al. expects Kaberle to a) revive the Habs powerplay and b) turn their season around, then this team is in even more trouble than I previously thought.

Calling Geoff Molson, calling Geoff Molson. The house is on fire and your GM just doused it with gasoline.

Kamal is a freelance writer, Senior Writer/Editor-in-Chief of, Montreal Canadiens Blogger on and featured columnist on Kamal is also a weekly contributor to the Sunday Shinny on TSN Radio 990 (AM 990) every Sunday from 9 - 10 AM. Listen live at

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(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)


I cannot even begin to describe how much I dislike this deal. Not only is Kaberle unlikely to be the puck moving, hard hitting defender the Habs desperately need, he's going to throttle the team's cap space when it comes to resigning what core players we do need to keep next year - Price, Subban, Gorges. And if Stubbs can't find an upside I tend to panic.

@Roz: The caps space part is almost worse than the expectation that he can fix what ails Montreal.

$4.25 for another two years? How much more evidence does Molson need that PG is a horrible evaluator of talent.

Brutal, brutal, brutal.

This and the Gomez deal set his franchise 5-10 years...

An underpeforming, old player with an expiring crappy contract was traded for an underperforming, slightly younger player with a longer crappy contract.

The key is that Kaberle has way more potential and talent than Spacek ever did. It is easy to blast the deal, but Kaberle can bring elements Spacek, Gorges, Emelin and Weber simply cannot.

He always played well against Montreal. Now, hopefully he can do like Erik Cole and play well with Montreal. He has a bad spell with Boston and Carolina and everyone makes it sound like he is washed up. He had 47 points last year!

I'm not saying this deal does not involve significant variables and risks, but it's not the dud so many are quickly making it out to be.

@Roz I think Emelin, Gorges, Gill and Subban provide a fair amount of size and physicality to the backend. With the power play as is, a more offensive minded rearguard is not a horrible thing to acquire.

How can we forget the #1 issue here. We had a number of key components to this team with expiring contracts and now $3.833 million cannot be used towards them. Instead we have $500k more off the books with Kaberle.

Now I don;t think Spacek would have fetched a good return at the deadline. A 7th round pick maybe? Not much more but this deal makes absolutely no sense except for the fact that it has been rumoured that Montreal has been after Kaberle for a couple of years now.

So who else is traded before the start of next week? We have Kaberle, Gorges, Subban, Emelin, Diaz, Gill, Weber and Campoli set to return. That's 8 d-men with Markov apparently only 2 weeks away.

Are we going with a 4th line of: Emelin-Diaz-Weber?

@Louis......isn't that why we signed Campoli? Campoli was just as productive, is younger and costs a hell of alot less. Why not just see what Campoli can do?

Now we are goign to have to play a few guys out of position.

@Bryan/Louis: Bryan hit the nail on the head with this deal...

While it is a bad move, imo, for now, it is MUCH worse for later. The best part about this season was that some of the old, tired vet blueliners would be off the books...and they'd take their overpriced contracts with them.

Gauthier just tacked on an additional 700K (approx) to his cap for the next two years (after this one).

Subban who? Price who? Gorges who?

Forget that those three key cogs all need new contracts and are ALL eyeing significant raises.

This is patent mismanagement and, what makes it even harder to swallow, is that Molson would have had to sign off on this deal.

So either he knows nothing about hockey and hockey management, actually believes this management team has the answers or is a complete idiot.

Either way, it does not bode well for Habs fans...

PG can't win.

When all the injuries befell the Canadiens, he was chided for not having retained Roman Hamrlik — who signed for Washington for two year at 3.5 million dollars per — or James Wisniewski — who signed with Columbus for six years at an average hit of 5.5 million dollars.

Now, he is critiqued for creating a logjam on the blueline — one that would have occured with Spacek's return anyway — and adding salary down the road.

With the Kaberle contract, assuming the cap remains about the same, PG will have around 16 million dollars to sign 9-10 players. Not a ton, I will admit, but with some creativity (or demoting / waiving / buying out Scott Gomez), there is room to make things work.


I disagree.

He could have won if he made a move which makes sense. For a week Friedman and others have been talking about how desperate Carolina was to shed Kaberle......well they found a sucker to take that contract off their hands.

Remember when Toronto acquired salary but also obtained picks and prospects? Dealing Spacek fo Kaberle is fine but it should have been part of something bigger.

If you want to get rid of Kaberle then throw in Larose or a 3rd rounder or something.

Otherwise you use your LTIR and bring in another player with an expering contract in exchange for perhaps a Weber.....But you don;t acquire a player on the decline who just signed a 3 year deal whn we are facing the cap issues and pending Free Agency problems like we have.

Furthermore there is now a serious log job so I hope to god that here is another move coming whereby we are parting ways with another d-man.....Campoli perhaps in exchange for another 3rd or 4th line forward.

Louis - I will give you Emelin and only Emelin on that list, sorry. Gill is a big boy who plays soft. Subban is too busy trying to draw calls more often than not lately. And Gorges tries hard but he is small and gets knocked around.

And everyone assumes that Gomez is going to either get waived to the AHL (highly unlikely); bought out (Molson still has to pay him big $); or traded (when pigs fly first class sipping champagne maybe).

You might get Subban, Price & Gorges all signed back for $16 mil, but you won't get much else besides if the 2 - count 'em 2 - albatross contracts don't get offloaded and even if they do the Habs are once again dealing from a position of weakness, and likely have to sweeten any potential deals with something they don't want to give up and can likely ill afford like draft picks or good prospects yet again.

It's a patch job so Molson can try to get his playoffs revenue, PG and JM can belay their termination, and it's exactly the path I didn't want this team to take. And if this continues we are going to suffer much much worse before the axe falls on this team's season and the brass finally gets the old heave ho.

You're on your own here Louis, sorry. I'm with Bryan and Kamal on this one.

Oh and Kaberle hasn't scored a PP goal since March 13, 2010. I'm not gonna hold my breath over here.

I feel like you guys are ganging up on my me! ;)

I'm on your side Louis, I like this trade! Kaberle is what we need on the power play! Spacek was dead wood.

Because you are now coined "Mini PG"


Spacek played well for us....he and Gorges have been among the best 5 on 5, led the team in +/- and provided a steady defense force back there. kaberle is horrible defensively and has failed for 2 teams on the PP in the past year and makes $500k can you like this?

The only positive I see about this is that kaberle is young and 1 year removed from a very good season. If he can somehow redevelop those instincts then this trade works otherwise it's brutal.

@Bryan Spacek is always injured and is not helping on the PP, like you said, Kaberle is only one-year removed from a good offensive season. A change of scenery can help a player rejuvenate his career; see Kris Versteeg with the Panthers

There is certainly a high risk high reward with this trade but IMO the risk outweighs the reward.

To remove much needed cap space in a year where there are so many free agents both UFA and RFA to sign is extremely risky with the elephant known as Gomez in the room.

One of the only reasons why are still around however is because of our 5 on 5 and PK playy. Spacek has been injured but when he played he played extremely well....just hoping Kaberle plays better than he did in Boston and Carolina

It's a major role of the dice. Habs gambled and lost with Gomez, Markov hasn't worked out so far and now Kaberle.

Big gamble. Huge.

As a hab fan for 46 years, I have never been so disgusted with my team as I am today. I can not even stand to watch them on TV anymore. They are just too pathetic too watch. In all my years as a fan I never though I would ever be saying this but I will no longer watch or read anything concerning the habs. Good bye my dear habs, I yearn for the 70's.

I cannot believe that Gauthier pulled off this deal it stinks like a dead body that has decayed!!! What are they going to do with those that they need to sign to keep this team going in the right direction Price Subban, Gorges, etc, etc. Kaberle isn't going to help the Canadiens unless a major miracle happens and starts playing good hockey. The Canadiens need to get rid of Gauthier, and Martin then they would be doing something.

Guys, how do you know if this is not a precursor to a bigger transaction at the trade deadline? What if PG is stocking up D’s for a bigger trade, i.e. Shea Weber? I could only hope if Weber does not resign with Nashville, PG could offer your choice of Gorges, Subban, Emelin, or even Markov + at least a first rounder, 2nd rounder for Weber. I’m sick and tired of the Habs paying big time money for middle of the pack players or over the hill players. Let us hope that this dream becomes reality.

I'm with Louis. I like the deal. People malign the habs' defence, but when you look at shots against, which is a good indicator of defensive quality of the defence, the Habs have been surprisingly strong. Sure, Kaberle will make them weaker defensively. But he will surely help to improve the PP, which is the team's most urgent need. He has experience playing with Plekanec, so perhaps they can find some chemistry on the PP. If Gomez doesn't improve between now and the end of the season, Habs are likely to buy him out or bury him in the minors, so the Kaberle cap hit may not turn out to be a big issue. But I don't want to see them let Campoli go--let's give him a chance to prove himself, too. I believe that Habs have a team that could be much better than their ytd points total indicate. But there is no doubt that the coach must be changed. I'm also worried about the backup goaltending and don't agree with relying so heavily on one goalie.

@Anon: the one talking about this being a precursor to a bigger trade...I think it IS a precursor to a bigger trade.

Yannick Weber seems to have played himself off the team while Diaz has stabilized and Emelin is getting better all the time.

Add to that the returning Campoli and Markov (supposedly) around the corner, and that makes Weber expendable.

I think we'll see him shipped out, perhaps in a package, possibly for help/size up front.

Your comment "brutal move" says it all. What was Gauthier thinking? Future moves ... who knows what he will do next. Not inspiring a lot confidence.

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