HabsWorld.net -- 

After blowing a 3-0 lead to Vancouver on Thursday, many fans were expecting
something to happen.  What actually did occur though was entirely
unexpected, as the team acquired defenceman Tomas Kaberle from Carolina in
exchange for Jaroslav Spacek.  Our writers have pondered the trade and
offer up their thoughts.

Matt Dilworth: To be perfectly honest, I didn’t see this trade coming.
 But with the Canadiens struggling, Andrei Markov no closer to returning and the
PP firing blanks, it is clear why GM Pierre Gauthier chose to address Montreal’s
most pressing need.  On paper, Kaberle is an upgrade over Spacek, and at first
glance, has improved Montreal’s powerplay.  The downside (as so many have
bemoaned) is that Kaberle isn’t the player that he was in Toronto, and that his
extra 2 years of a $4.25M cap hit will be a burden down the line when it comes
to re-signing players.  Despite these legitimate concerns, I believe that
Kaberle will improve the Canadiens, most notably with the man-advantage, and
this should lead to a few more points in the standings given the number of close
defeats of late.  If this is true, then the potential cap implications will be
worth it.  That being said, if the Habs fail to make the playoffs, and lose a
player like Josh Gorges as a result of a lack of cap space, then the trade isn’t
looking as great.  But at the end of the day, Montreal got an NHL calibre
defenceman with offensive skills without surrendering any youth or draft picks,
and look likelier to make the playoffs than they did a week ago.

George Kouniakis: To me, this trade signals one thing: panic. The Habs
have just traded an underappreciated and reliable veteran defenseman for an
overpriced asset past his prime. To be fair, Kaberle was once an excellent
powerplay quarterback, but his recent performance has left considerable doubt as
to whether he is capable of recapturing that form. It has been said several
times since the trade broke but it bears repeating: The Bruins brought in
Kaberle for the exact same reason last year, and the experiment failed to bear
fruit. Yes, the Bruins did win the cup, but it was in spite of their terrible
power play, not because of it. On the other hand, the Canadiens brought in
Mathieu Schneider a few seasons ago when many thought that he was past his
prime, and Schneider managed to prove his critics wrong and did end up helping
the powerplay. But Schneider was a UFA-to-be, and not an overpriced veteran with
three years left on his contract. I hope that Gauthier has more tricks up his
sleeve, because if this trade fails to shore up the defense and save the PP, it
could cost him the playoffs, his coach, or even his job.

Brian La Rose: My initial reaction to this was thinking that those who
feel Pierre Gauthier was afraid to take risks can’t say that anymore.  This
has the potential to be a big time steal or an albatross of a contract that
could preclude a key piece from staying/signing later on.  Sometimes you
have to just take the chance though and its not as if Spacek is a huge loss for
this team.  In fact, most would argue the bigger loss is the future cap
space.  The PP needed some help and it has become clear that P.K. Subban
cannot run the top unit without it; Kaberle should provide the help that the
likes of Yannick Weber, Tomas Plekanec, and most recently Josh Gorges couldn’t. 
Defensively is where I’m most concerned with this trade.  Kaberle, to put
it nicely, is mediocre at best in his own end.  The same can be said for
Chris Campoli who is due to return soon so there are bound to be some question
marks in that area moving forward.  The upside outweighs this in my books,
particularly since the Habs are doing well in limiting opponents’ shots
presently.  It’s most certainly a gamble but one worth taking, especially
if Kaberle can return to his old form.

Louis Moustakas:

So many people seem to be taking a negative view of this deal. As if somehow,
in spite of a 47 point season last year and a Stanley Cup, suddenly Kaberle
has outlived his usefulness. Also, in reading some articles, you almost get
the sense that he was solely responsible for Boston’s dismal man advantage
during the playoffs. Never mind that, in the postseason, Kaberle had as many
powerplay points as Zdeno Chara, Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron combined.
It was all his fault. In short, what I am trying to convey through this rant
is that I like this deal. Kaberle is still relatively young at 33 years old and can
certainly help the Montreal PP which has struggled mightily this
year. He moves the puck well and plays a sound positional game, although it is
apparent he is somewhat deficient at one-on-one coverage.

With two years remaining at $4.25 million, his deal may be worrisome, but it is not untradeable. Besides, if
need be, the Canadiens have the deep pockets to bury a bad contract. In any
event, between now and next year, the salary cap will undoubtedly change and a
new CBA needs to be put in place. So, before
assuming Pierre Gauthier has made it near impossible for the Canadiens to
retain P.K. Subban and Carey Price, who are free agents at season’s end, we
should wait for things to play out. Until then, Montreal
received a four time NHL All-Star and Stanley Cup winner in return for an
aging Jarsoslav Spacek.

Jonathan Rebelo: When the trade happened I really thought, "Wow," all
it cost Gauthier was Jaroslav Spacek; that’s great and Kaberle will help fill
the glaring hole for PP quarterback. Then I saw the reaction on Twitter and the
message boards and really was taken aback but alas I was still happy and not
worried about the cap implications because if they really need to, Kaberle can
be buried in the minors if he does not perform and the Molson’s desire to win
enough to have big money riding buses in Hamilton. I believe Kaberle will help
the Canadiens PP from its current rank of 28th into the top-20 by mid January
and will help the Canadiens into the top-15 by March and top-10 by the end of
the year. I think this trade could end up being a huge steal for the Canadiens.

Norman Szcyrek: Well the Kaberle trade has a different impact to the
Habs in the short term vs. the long term. At this time the move to Montreal may
be the just the thing for Kaberle to jumpstart his career, which has floundered
since he left the Leafs. Montreal is hoping he can help revive the Habs
struggling powerplay. While he was in Toronto, Kaberle was known as a "Habs
killer," who really elevated his game against Montreal, which management hopes
will translate well for them. His cap hit for this season is only around $400K
more than Jaroslav Spacek. Giving up Spacek is not a big loss. He has been out
of the line up more than he was in this season. In the longer term, Tomas is
signed for 2 more seasons past this one at a $4.25 M cap hit. Tying up that much
cap space will have some impact on re-signing current Habs like upcoming UFA’s
Josh Gorges, Hal Gill, and Chris Campoli, not to mention RFA’s P.K. Subban,
Raphael Diaz and Alexei Emelin, since Andrei Markov and Yannick Weber are also
signed past this season. The restricted free agents all need to be retained,
which will restrict which UFA (if any) they can re-sign.

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