Kaberle/By S. Bradley

The Bruins’ trade for Joe Corvo and Tomas Kaberle’s decision to leave Boston for Carolina are both now more than a week old.

By now we’ve all settled on the notion that Corvo’s potential to suit the Bruins’ needs outweighs whatever potential Kaberle, with a full year in Boston and playing the Bruins’ system, had to thrive. This is especially true considering the substantial money savings Corvo’s contract provides in comparison to the deal Kaberle signed, which makes him a member of the Hurricanes for three years at a cap hit of $4.25 million (Corvo’s one-year cap hit to the Bruins is $2.25 million).

But something E.J. Hradek wrote in his NHL.com piece called “EJ’s Instant Analysis” (I don’t know how it’s instant if he’s analyzing a week-old trade) caught my eye last night.

Hradek writes:

One team source in Boston says the B’s would have done a one-year deal and possibly two years with Kaberle, depending on the price. They weren’t, according to the source, going to any further than two years.

No one can blame the Bruins for sticking to their guns, considering the uncertain future of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and the number of free agents they have coming up in the years ahead.

On the other hand, this says something to me about Tomas Kaberle the man, and a lot of other players chasing the biggest payday. I never begrudge a guy signing with the highest bidder. That is by far every athlete’s right, as granted to them by their respective leagues’ collective bargaining agreements and earned by their talents and hard work.

But to me there comes a time when you have to wonder: how much money is enough? Kaberle just finished a deal that paid him $21,500,000 million over five years, according to CapGeek.com, to mostly toil in mediocrity with the Toronto Maple Leafs. That site only goes back as far as 2006-07 in terms of Kaberle’s salary history, so we just know that he made untold millions more prior to that. Now he departs Boston, where he could’ve defended the Stanley Cup championship in front of a rabid fan base, to skate through even more mediocrity in Raleigh.

This isn’t a knock against hockey in Carolina in general. But just look at the Hurricanes’ roster. They let Erik Cole walk and have replaced him with Alex Ponikarovsky and Anthony Stewart. The ‘Canes in 2011-12 will be lucky to be fighting for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference by March.

Now Kaberle is obviously going to love living in Raleigh, as most players who go there typically do. And he’s now set for life financially. But one would think that after all those years of playoff-less springs in Toronto, winning the Cup in Boston might’ve whet his appetite for most postseason runs. If he could’ve signed a one- or two-year deal for a couple million, you’d think he would’ve done it if winning is the biggest thing.

Luckily, Kaberle’s money-first decision didn’t impact the Bruins all that much. Carolina’s budget restrictions kept it from retaining Corvo and Kaberle on what would’ve been an impressive defense corps, which is now reduced again to just a solid sextet. With Corvo around to be at least a third-pair defenseman, especially if one of Boston’s kids makes a splash next season, the Bruins barely have to bat an eyelash about missing Kaberle.

If Kaberle’s really a proud athlete, however, he’s going to miss the drama and passion of the playoffs. To me, an extra year on a contract and an extra couple million wouldn’t be worth trading that opportunity away.