As the big move for the Boston Bruins a week prior to the trade deadline, GM Peter Chiarelli sent the B’s first round pick this year and former first round pick Joe Colborne north of the border to Toronto for 33-year-old, puck-moving defenseman Tomas Kaberle. The Czech native has a reputation as one of the better transition d-men and powerplay quarterbacks in the NHL, which are two areas that the Bruins sorely lacked in.
Now, leading up to the deadline, rumors swirled about potential trade targets for Chiarelli and company, and analysts guesses incessantly about which defenseman would be the best fit for the Bruins. Kaberle’s name was obviously brought up a ton due to the fact that Chiarelli had been trying to trade for him for the past three years. And I’ll admit, not having watched a ton of Kaberle outside of the Bruins-Leafs games, I wasn’t all that excited about him coming to Boston. I mean, sure his puck-moving talents and powerplay prowess were well documented, but he was also widely considered to be an extremely soft player who lacked in the defensive end. Add to that the fact that he is on the wrong end of 30 and seemingly in the decline of his career, I really wanted nothing to do with him.
As the rumors of him coming to Boston became stronger though, I came around to the fact that he was going to be the B’s big deadline move and made peace with it. Now that I’ve had the chance to watch him play a few games with the Bruins, I can actually appreciate his game for what it really is. Here are some of my thoughts on Kaberle so far:
1. The dude looks shockingly like a 12-year old boy. It’s honestly creepy. It looks like he doesn’t ever shave and I shutter to think what he’s going to look like trying to grow a playoff beard.
2. I really respect his use of the 90’s-era CCM helmet. It’s pretty bad ass and he might be the only player in the whole league who rocks the old school style. Hell even the 60-year-old Mark Recchi rocks new-style equipment.
3. He is MUCH better defensively than anybody wanted to give him credit for. I made it a point in their game against Calgary Tuesday night to focus on him whenever he was on the ice, and he was hands-down the B’s best d-man all night long. He is almost always in good defensive position. He’s very strong on his stick. He’s by no means a bruiser, but he uses his body very well to gain position and knock guys off the puck. Not even close to the liability defensively that some would have you believe.
4. He is a one-man powerplay. And of course I don’t mean that literally. But after suffering through way too many B’s man-advantages where they could barely even get set up in the offensive zone, it’s refreshing to watch Kaberle QB the PP. They almost always get set offensively. He’s so smooth and calm with the puck back at the point. I mean christ, it’s 100 times better than having Recchi at the point with the puck.
5. His puck-moving and transition skills are as advertised. Plain and simple, the breakout and transition game is just so much better with him on the ice. He seems to know exactly what he’s going to do with the puck before he even has it on his stick. His movements and passes are smooth and crisp.
All in all, I was skeptical about what Kaberle could really bring to the table, but I am thrilled to have been wrong. This was definitely a very good acquisition by the GM and you’d be foolish to think he doesn’t make the Bruins a much better team. Now I’m not ready to anoint them this year’s Stanley Cup winner….oh fuck it, I’m a huge homer, of course I think the B’s can win the Stanley Cup this year. Kaberle only helps strengthen that.