In one of the more surprising moves of the offseason, former defenseman Joe Corvo, saying his agent made a “soft request” for a trade, was traded to the Boston Bruins for a fourth round pick in the 2012 NHL draft. In needing to fill a defensive void in Corvo’s departure, General Manager Jim Rutherford decided to sign veteran Tomas Kaberle to a 3-year contract that will pay him $4.25 million per season. Tomas noted that a major factor in his decision to join the Hurricanes was the influence of his brother Frantisek, who won the Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006 and played 4 seasons with the club. After playing 12 seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, who drafted him at 204th overall in the 1996 NHL entry draft, he was traded to the Boston Bruins last season for a 2011 first round pick, 2012 second round pick and a prospect. Kaberle played 25 playoff games for the Bruins, registering 11 points (all assists) and was a +8 on route to winning a Stanley Cup. During some of his better years in Toronto (2006-07, 2007-08), Kaberle had current Hurricanes’ head coach Paul Maurice as his coach and was able to have 50+ points for the only time in his career (58 in ’06-’07 and 53 in ’07-’08).
In signing Kaberle, the Hurricanes signed a veteran, puck-moving defenseman who is able to play on the point of which was a struggling power play last season. The four-time NHL All-Star has played in over 900 career regular season and 102 playoff games, scoring over 560 points. The 33 year old Rakovník, Czechoslovakia native has represented his country several times in his career, including winning a bronze medal in the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy. He has also played for the Czech Republic in 2002 and 2010.
So far for the Hurricanes, Kaberle has been paired with rookie defenseman Justin Faulk and Jay Harrison, who we did a Feature Friday article on last week. During 9 games played, Kaberle has 2 assists and is a -4. As he gets adjusted to the new defensive system implemented by assistant coach Dave Lewis, I expect those numbers to get better. Caniacs also expect the power play to improve as the groups get more practice time, which will also help Kaberle’s numbers.