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Monday, February 14, 2011

Brian Burke's Next Trade - Part 4 - Tomas Kaberle and the "Time Machine" Trade

"Time Machine" Trades
Usually Involve Budget Teams
"Tomas Kaberle and the 'Time Machine' Trade" is part of a series of "Brian Burke's Next Trade" posts:
  1. Brian Burke's Next Trade - Part 1
  2. Brian Burke's Next Trade - Part 2 - Making Room for Prospects
  3. Brian Burke's Next Trade - Part 3 - Catching the Big Fish
In essence, a "Time Machine" trade is where you trade a player in his declining playing years (when he is past 30 years old) for a player who will be part of your team's core in the immediate near future.  Presently, Tomas Kaberle is 32 years old.

Brian Burke has been trying for the past two years to pull off a "Time Machine" trade involving Tomas Kaberle.  He thought he had one with Boston Bruins before the 2009-10 season.  However, there was a significant misunderstanding.  Brian Burke thought Boston agreed to send Phil Kessel and its 2009 1st round draft pick for Tomas Kaberle.  Peter Chiarelli, Boston's Manager, thought he traded Phil Kessel for Tomas Kaberle and Toronto's 2009 1st round draft pick.

There was a reported trade with Philadelphia vetoed by Tomas Kaberle prior to Brian Burke arriving to Toronto.  It was alleged Cliff Fletcher, Toronto's Manager at the time, reached agreement with Philadelphia agreed to send 29 year-old Tomas Kaberle for 22 year-old Jeff Carter and Philadephia's  2008 1st round pick.  Tomas Kaberle has a conditional NTC (No Trade Clause) in his contract where it goes dormant during the summer when Toronto fails to make the playoffs.

Why has it been so difficult to trade Tomas Kaberle?  What can you expect in return for him?  What strategy should Brian Burke use to trade him?

History is always a good starting point to find possible answers to these questions.  Below is a list of all "Time Machine" trades since the lockout involving players older than 30 who have been All-Stars (representing their team at the NHL All-Star game) and Olympic Team players.  The ages of the players involved in the trade are in brackets.  Players who were 1st round drafts picks have their draft position listed after their age.  Highlighted in yellow are "Time Machine" trades that appear to be successful in yielding younger players.  Past Hart Trophy winners are in bold letters.

"Time Machine" Trades Since the Lockout
DatePlayers Traded ToPlayers Acquired By
Sergei Fedorov (35)
5th 2006 (Maxime Frechette)
Francois Beauchemin (25)
Tyler Wright (32) 12th
Doug Weight (35)
Erkki Rajamaki (26)
1st 2006 (upgrade trade)
              (Patrik Bergland)
Mike Zigomannis (24)
Jesse Boulerice (27)
Magnus Kahnberg (25)
Alexei Zhitnik (33)
Freddie Meyer (26)
3rd 2007 (Mark Katic)
Alexei Zhitnik (33)
Braydon Coburn (21) 8th
Peter Forsberg (33) 5th
Scottie Upshall (23) 6th
Ryan Parent (19) 18th
1st 2007 (traded for players)
              (Scott Hartnell)
              (Kimmo Timanen)
3rd 2007 (traded)
Bill Guerin (36)
Ville Nieminen (29)
1st 2007 (David Perron)
Ryan Smyth (30) 6th
Robert Nilsson (21) 15th
Ryan O'Marra (19) 15th
1st 2007 (Alex Plante)
Tomas Vokoun (31)
1st 2008 (upgrade trade)
              (Colin Wilson)
2nd 2007 (Nick Spaling)
2nd 2008 (traded)
Doug Weight (37)
Michal Birner (21)
7th 2007 (Paul Karpowich)
Andy McDonald (30)
Adam Foote (36)
1st 2008 (traded for players)
              (RJ Umberger)
4th 2008 (David Savard)
Lubomir Visnovsky (32)
Jarret Stoll (26)
Matt Greene (25)
Chris Pronger (34) 2nd
Ryan Dingle (25)
Joffrey Lupul (26) 7th
Luca Sbisa (20) 19th
1st 2009 (traded for picks)
              (Kyle Palmieri)
              (Matt Clark)
1st 2010 (Emerson Etem)
Ryan Smyth (33) 6th
Kyle Quincey (24)
Tom Preissing (30)
5th 2010 (Luke Walker)
Lubomir Visnovsky (33)
Ryan Whitney (26) 5th
6th 2010 (Brandon Davidson)
Jason Arnott (35) 7th
2nd 2011
Matt Halischuk (22)
DAL Jamie Langenbrunner (35)
3rd 2011 (conditonal 2nd)

When reviewing these trades you will notice a few things:
  1. Budget teams typically acquire "Time Machine" trade players.
  2. "Time Machine" trades are usually done as the trade deadline approaches.
  3. Philadelphia Flyers have history of doing "Time Machine" trades.
  4. Except for the Flyers trade, returns in "Time Machine" trades have been weak in past three seasons.
  5. Boston Bruins do not participate in "Time Machine" trades.
It makes sense for budget teams to seek out "Time Machine" trades when making a cup run.  This is there only chance to acquire these types of players.  Their budgets simply don't have room to have these large salaries for a complete season.  As a result, they are not in the market to sign them as free agents.

Here are the ramifications on Burke's quest to "Time Machine" trade Tomas Kaberle:
  1. Market probably reduced to just Philadelphia because of Kaberle's NTC (No Trade Clause).  Doubtful Kaberle waives it for a budget team.
  2. Philadelphia only has $5.064 mil room in next year's cap to extend Kaberle.  Getting a contract extension as part of the trade is the rumoured requirement for Kaberle to waive his NTC.
"Time Machine" trading Tomas Kaberle may just be a forlorn hope.  This is unfortunate since Burke has targeted James Van Riemsdyk on Philadelphia.  However, Burke does have some factors working in his favour:
  1. Philadelphia needs to improve its power play.  It is currently ranked 17th in the NHL and below the league average.
  2. Moving Van Riemsdyk creates cap room for Philadelphia to extend Kaberle.
  3. Paul Holmgren, Philadelphia's Manager, values Kaberle.  Remember his willingness to trade Jeff Carter for Kaberle.
  4. Brian Burke can make the deal bigger by adding Kris Versteeg.  However, it requires Toronto taking back Brayden Colburn or Matt Carle so Flyers comply with next year's cap when extending Kaberle.  
  5. Toronto can take any unwanted cap salary from Philadelphia so Flyers can do additional trades.  For example, Holmgren may want to shed Nikolai Zherdev from their roster.  Shedding the cap salary and opening a third spot on their 50 Active Player roster.
James Van Riemsdyk and Matt Carle or Brayden Colburn for Tomas Kaberle (with contract extension) and Kris Versteeg might be too costly for Philadelphia.  Ultimately, it will come down to Paul Holmgren having to choose between "wanting to win the trade" versus "wanting to win the cup".  It will be interesting to watch.

Post Script 14-Feb-2011

Kris Versteeg was traded to Philadelphia Flyers for a 1st and 3rd round pick within two hours of posting this blog entry.  This trade makes it almost impossible to move Tomas Kaberle to Philadelphia since they are capped out.  Brian Burke and Peter Chiarelli are now forced to deal with each other again!  Fans from both teams must be holding their breadth.

Post Script 18-Feb-2011

Another observation worth noting is the importance of receiving 1st round draft picks when making "Time Machine" trades.  You see them in many "Time Machine" trades.  These draft picks are usually later traded for a top prospect or a higher draft pick.  In essence, when acquiring a 1st round draft pick, the Manager acquires an asset that holds its value over time and can be moved to any team regardless of its cap and budget restrictions.  Furthermore, 1st round draft picks do not have NTC or NMC (No Movement Clause).

Post Script Part II 18-Feb-2011

Tomas Kaberle has been traded for Joe Colborne (drafted 16th overall in 2008 Entry Draft) and Boston's 2011 1st pick and a conditional 2nd pick from 2011.  Boston's 2nd pick depends on Kaberle either resigning with Boston or Boston advancing to the Stanley Cup finals.

Only Chris Pronger and Peter Forsberg have garnered a larger return in a "Time Machine" trade.  Both of them happen to be former Hart Trophy winners and Top 5 draft picks.

However, if the initial strategy was to package Kris Versteeg to magnify Kaberle's value, Burke can claim success with Colborne, two 1st round picks, and a conditional 2nd round pick.  In fact, splitting up Versteeg to get a 1st when the strategy wasn't working increased the return and applied pressure on Boston to make a move.

As a result, the combined returns for Kaberle and Versteeg compare nicely to Forsberg and Pronger.

Traditionally, Boston has never acquired a "Time Machine" player.  They usually acquire their players such as Marc Savard, Zdano Chara, Tim Thomas, and Mark Ryder through free agency.

Traditionally, Brian Burke does not acquire prospects and 1st round picks when doing a "Time Machine" trade.  In the past, he has acquired Francois Beauchemin and Andy McDonald in these trades.  He even stated his current objective is to get players.

Brian Burke has shown tremendous flexibility.  In doing so, he has pulled a rabbit out of the hat by getting "Hart Trophy winner" like returns for Kaberle and Versteeg.

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