Except for him, his agent, the Carolina Hurricanes and maybe a couple other NHL executives, there aren’t too many other people that believe Tomas Kaberle is worth the $4.25 million-per-year deal he signed with the ‘Canes today.
Such is the zany free-agent market in 2011.
But not only does Carolina think Kaberle’s worth that type of cash, the ‘Canes also think he’s an upgrade on Joe Corvo. The Bruins, however, would beg to differ.
After realizing they were going to lose Kaberle, the Bruins traded a fourth-round pick in 2012 to Carolina for Corvo. The veteran defenseman makes a little more than half of what Kaberle stands to take home now, and brings with him a booming right-handed shot that he’s not afraid to use.
The Bruins have to like that of Corvo’s 11 goals last season, five came on the power play for a Carolina team that ranked 24th on the man-advantage. He led all Carolina defensemen with 191 shots on goal, which was fourth overall on the club. He was also second on the ‘Canes in overall average ice time and shorthanded ice time.
If there are knocks on Corvo, one is that he can play soft. While it’s not always a tell-tale sign about a guy’s toughness, that he doesn’t have a single career fighting major shows that he’s not exactly sticking his nose into difficult situations. At 34, it’s not likely that he’s suddenly going to turn tough.
And his last foray into a stretch run and playoffs with a contending team was a disaster, as he put up 2-4-6 totals and a minus-4 rating in 18 games for the 2009-10 Washington Capitals and then added just 1-1-2 totals and minus-2 in a seven-game first-round series. Previously, Corvo’s postseason numbers with Ottawa and Carolina were decent — 4-12-16 and minus-3 in 38 games, including the Senators’ run to the ’07 Stanley Cup Final.
With Corvo making Andrew Ference-type money and signed for just one more year, this move has only slightly more risk attached than the Benoit Pouliot signing the Bruins executed last week. The best-case scenario would be for Corvo to put his shot and skating to good use, add a little edge, and become a second-pair fixture and power-play punch provider. He could settle in on a third pair if he doesn’t make the most of his tools.
At worst, he’s battling for playing time with the likes of Adam McQuaid and Johnny Boychuk, especially if Steven Kampfer or Matt Bartkowski show up and win a top-six job this fall.
While Corvo could turn out to be a great add to the team, right now the Bruins aren’t better — on paper — than the team that won the Cup a few weeks ago. They’re not worse either.
Until we see how Corvo handles the adjustment to Boston’s system and takes care of his own end, we can only call the swap of him for Kaberle a wash right now. But the Bruins still have the cap room to upgrade over the rest of the summer or during the season. And they definitely like their kids.
So a wash, which saves them money, is really all they need right now.