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Tomas Kaberle signs with Hurricanes 07.05.11 at 4:51 pm ET
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The Carolina Hurricanes have agreed to a three-year, $12.75 million deal with Tomas Kaberle.

“Tomas is one of the top puck-moving defensemen in the NHL and power-play specialist,” Carolina GM Jim Rutherford said on Tuesday. “He has had a good career and is now a Stanley Cup champion. We welcome him to Carolina and look forward to his contributions to the Hurricanes.”

The defenseman was acquired by the Bruins on February 18 from the Maple Leafs in exchange for center Joe Colborne, the Bruins’ 2011 first-round pick, and their 2012 second-rounder. Kaberle struggled during his time in Boston, though he did match Dennis Seidenberg for the team lead amongst defenseman in postseason points. The four-time All-Star is the second member of the Stanley Cup winners to leave via free agency in the past week, as Michael Ryder inked a two-year, $7 million contract with the Dallas Stars last Friday.

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Source: Tomas Kaberle still in talks with Bruins, not close to a decision 07.04.11 at 10:31 am ET
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According to a source familiar with the situation, free agent defenseman Tomas Kaberle remains in contact with the Bruins and is also talking to multiple other teams, but it isn’t likely that he’ll be signing with anyone in the immediate future.

It could be a while before Tomas Kaberle signs on the dotted line. (AP)

The source told WEEI.com on Monday that Kaberle is “not likely to make a decision until sometime next week.”

Kaberle finished last season with the Bruins, winning his first Stanley Cup after being acquired from the Maple Leafs in exchange for center Joe Colborne, the Bruins’ 2011 first-round pick, and their 2012 second-rounder. The 33-year-old finished last season with four goals and 43 assists for 47 points.

The puck-moving defenseman is one of two members of the Stanley Cup-winning lineup to hit unrestricted free agency. Forward Michael Ryder took a two-year, $7 million deal with the Stars on Friday, while Kaberle is currently the top unsigned defenseman. The Bruins certainly have the salary cap space to get a deal done, but he did not perform up to expectations after coming to the B’s on Feb. 18, so the team, as well as others, could be hesitant to give him an annual number close to the $4.25 cap hit he carried over the course of his last contract.

In the playoffs, Kaberle tied Dennis Seidenberg for the team lead amongst defenseman in points. Prior to coming to the Bruins, he played his entire career for the Maple Leafs, a tenure in which he was named an All-Star four times.

While Kaberle remains unsigned, multiple other defensemen received long-term deals last week, including Kevin Bieksa (five years, $23 million with the Canucks), Christian Ehrhoff (10 years, $40 million with the Sabres), James Wisniewski (six years, $33 million with the Blue Jackets) and Ed Jovanovski (four years, $16.5 million with the Panthers).

If the Bruins do not bring Kaberle back, 22-year-old Steven Kampfer, who played 38 games for the B’s in the 2010-11 season, would likely step in as the sixth defenseman for Boston.

Read More: 2011 NHL Free Agency, Tomas Kaberle,
Blue Jackets sign James Wisniewski 07.01.11 at 11:43 am ET
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Tomas Kaberle’s biggest competition on the free agent market never even made it to unrestricted free agency. The Blue Jackets inked defenseman James Wisniewski to a six-year, $33 million pact Friday morning, less than an hour before free agency was set to open.

The pact will command an annual cap hit of $5.5 million, and leaves Tomas Kaberle and Ed Jovanovski as the top free agent defensemen. The Bruins are letting Kaberle test the market to see what he can get, but do not consider themselves out of the running for the 33-year-old.

Of course, with Wisniewski and Christian Ehrhoff (Sabres) signed, any team in need of a puck-moving defenseman must now put Kaberle atop their list. Kaberle disappointed in his time with the B’s, as turnovers and cuts in his icetime suggested, but he finished the postseason tied with Dennis Seidenberg for the most points (11) amongst Bruins’ defensemen.

Wisniewski finished last season with the Canadiens after being acquired during the season from the Islanders. The Habs sent his rights to Columbus this week in exchange for a conditional seventh-round pick, but since the 27-year-old signed with the team, the Blue Jackets will instead send a fifth-rounder to Montreal.

Read More: 2011 NHL Free Agency, Christian Ehrhoff, James Wisniewski, Tomas Kaberle
With five returning, who will be the other Bruins’ defenseman? 06.30.11 at 2:34 pm ET
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The Bruins have five of their six defensemen from the Stanley Cup finals under contract through at least next season, with Tomas Kaberle’s spot the only question mark. B’s general manager Peter Chiarelli said Thursday that the team will let Kaberle test the waters, and that if he signs elsewhere, they’ll find a replacement. That means whoever the B’s have back there next year needs to be at least somewhat offensively minded. After the power play woes of the playoffs, that’s only logical.

So who might be that last (not necessarily the sixth) defenseman be? Here are some options:

TOMAS KABERLE (free agent, Bruins)

Age: 33

2010-11 team: Maple Leafs/Bruins

2010-11 stats: 82 GP, 4 G, 43 A, 47 P, +4 (regular season)

25 GP, 0 G, 11 A, 11 P, +8 (playoffs)

Height/Weight: 6-foot-1, 214 pounds

Pros: Outstanding passer

Cons: Poor skater, turnover-prone

The skinny: The sound of a full Garden screaming “SHOOT!” might keep Kaberle awake at night, and though there were plenty of roadbumps on the way to him becoming the solid player he was in the Cup finals, more time in Boston might make him better. Perhaps the reason he looked more like himself later in the postseason was because he was getting comfortable, but the minutes Claude Julien gave him in the playoffs suggest he won’t be worth the payday he seeks. If the B’s can get him for $3 million or less, maybe they’ll take a flier. Any more than that just isn’t sensible.

STEVEN KAMPFER (Bruins, signed through 2013)

Age: 22

2010-11 team: Bruins

2010-11 stats: 38 GP, 5 G, 5 A, 10 P, +9 (with Boston)

22 GP, 3 G, 16 A, 16 P, +10 (with Providence)

Height/weight: 5-foot-10, 188 pounds

Pros: Good skater, right-handed shot

Cons: Faded/lost spot down the stretch

The skinny: Kampfer needed very little time to settle into the NHL, and though his partner (some guy named Chara) had plenty to do with that, he showed he is capable of contributing at this level. He had as costly a 13-minute span as anyone could back on March 17, and his misplay and a penalty not only cost the Bruins the game in Nashville, but it cost Kampfer his spot in the lineup. He injured his knee while playing in the AHL late in the season, but was good enough to play again midway through the Eastern Conference finals. He did not play a game in the postseason.

If it ends up being an in-house promotion, the B’s will also give Matt Bartkowski a good look.

JAMES WISNIEWSKI (UPDATE: signed six-year, $33 million deal with Blue Jackets)

Age: 27

2010-11 team: Islanders/Canadiens

2010-11 stats: 75 GP, 10 G, 41 A, 51 P, -14  (regular season)

6 GP, 0 G, 2 A, 2 P, -2 (playoffs)

Height/weight: 5-foot-11, 208 pounds

Pros: Hard-nosed, crafty with the puck

Cons: Had career year in contract year, price may be high

The skinny: The Michigan native could become fast friends with Kampfer and Tim Thomas (both from Michigan), and given his tendency to get under the skin of opponents, he and Brad Marchand would probably go from being enemies to pals pretty quickly. The Red Wings have only three defensemen under contract for next season, so the idea of bringing the local boy to Detroit makes that a logical potential destination for Wisniewski. If the Red Wings are in on the 27-year-old, they won’t be alone. Wisniewski has only had one season with more than 30 points, and it was his contract year. He’ll be paid well, so the price could be too steep for the Bruins’ liking.

CHRISTIAN EHRHOFF (UPDATE: SIGNED 10-YEAR, $40 M contract with Sabres)

Age: 28

2010-11 team: Canucks

2010-11 stats: 79 GP, 14 G, 36 A, 50 P, +19 (regular season)
23 GP, 2 G, 10 A, 12 P, -13 (playoffs)

Height/weight: 6-foot-2, 200 pounds

Pros: Durable (77+ games each of last five seasons), strong on power play

Cons: Too much money, this video

The skinny: Ehroff suffered a shoulder injury against his old team in the Western Conference finals, explaining why he was less than impressive vs. the Bruins. The shoulder will not require surgery.

The German media would go nutbars at the prospect of Dennis Seidenberg, one of only two German Stanley Cup champions, to be teamed with Ehrhoff. The two are actually good friends, as they have played on national teams since they were 17 and were defensive partners at the Olympics. The issue is that the Islanders traded a fourth-round pick for his rights this week and, despite general manager Garth Snow saying they offered “well north” of Kevin Bieksa‘s five-year, $23 million pact, couldn’t get him signed. Maybe that’s because Ehrhoff wants to play for a winner, but it may also be because he’s holding out for top dollar. If it’s the latter, you can count the Bruins out. Given the financial aspect, it’s hard to imagine any circumstance in which the B’s bring him in.

_______

At the end of the day, the Bruins might have to overpay for Wisniewski, which makes one feel that if the B’s don’t get Kaberle back, they could just go with Kampfer. The 22-year-old is still progressing, and if he plays with Chara, it will be that much easier. Plus, it’s the most economical thing to do. Unless the B’s can get a deal on a veteran who brings more to the table, they might be better off hoping that, much like Adam McQuaid did this past season, Kampfer can take an opportunity and run with it.

Read More: 2011 NHL Free Agency, Christian Ehrhoff, James Wisniewski, Peter Chiarelli
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