Kaberle

The answer comes down to assets, of which the Bruins don’t really have — or can’t afford to part with — much that the Toronto Maple Leafs would be interested in acquiring in exchange for the contract-year-entering star defenseman Tomas Kaberle.

According to a report by Michael Traikos of CanWest News Service, four teams — Buffalo, Columbus, Anaheim, New Jersey — are among leading the charge of teams seeking Kaberle’s services. Of course, there’s more to this situation than just a no-trade clause that expires for Kaberle at the draft. With him entering the last year of his deal (at a $4.25 million cap hit), a team that’s going to surrender a bounty for Kaberle has to know he wants to stay there beyond this season.

As Traikos explains: “The challenge, for (Toronto GM Brian) Burke, is playing matchmaker. He not only has to find a team that is interested in Kaberle, he also has to find a team that Kaberle is interested in. And they hope the two sides can settle on a new contract.”

Let’s start with the basics. Kaberle is a solid two-way, left-shot defenseman that at 32 would be a great addition to any club, including the Bruins. Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli has chased Kaberle in the past, most famously at last June’s draft when a deal fell through for Phil Kessel. He also went after Kaberle at the winter before’s trade deadline.

So obviously Chiarelli’s confident Kaberle wouldn’t mind Boston. Assuming that wouldn’t be an issue, what would Toronto want in return? Even without Kaberle, Toronto is still pretty deep on the back end — Luke Schenn and Mike Komisarek are practically third-pair guys on that roster. So it all starts with scorers, preferably centers.

Now the following is all fun and games, and not to be taken as rumor, gossip or anything but a total hypotethical.

The first name brought up would definitely be David Krejci. Assuming the Bruins balk at that (and any hint about Patrice Bergeron), then it’s time to look around. There’s no one else on the Bruins’ NHL roster Toronto would even start the conversation with. If you take Tyaylor SeguinHall (you know who that is) out of the equation as well, you’re talking about convincing Toronto to take an established defenseman along with a prospect or two up front.

Would a combination of Joe Colborne, Mark Stuart and maybe a second-round pick get it done? What about Colborne and the No. 15? Burke has always had a thing for U.S. college prospects. It’s too bad Boston’s other two recent first-round forwards don’t project all that well offensively. Jordan Caron never did and Zach Hamill is looking more and more like checking-line material.

When you also add in that a team dealing within the division probably has to sweeten the pot a bit more, plus the recent re-signing of Dennis Seidenberg gives the Bruins three defensemen making more than $3 million (not to mention Zdeno Chara due another contract soon), you basically have to figure that if Kaberle skates for someone other than Toronto at TD Garden next year, it won’t be in a black-and-gold sweater. (Unless he goes to Pittsburgh to replace Sergei Gonchar.)