Kaberle makes it clear

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:40 AM ET

The Edmonton Oilers will be trading one unhappy contracted player for another if they make Tomas Kaberle part of any Chris Pronger trade with the Maple Leafs in the next few days.

That was the unsubtle hint from Kaberle and agent Rick Curran yesterday as the Pronger camp tries to force a trade to a more desirable location in Toronto or the United States. Kaberle was looking forward to July 1 and the official start of a four-year, $17-million US deal with the Leafs.

But until Saturday, he's fair game to be dealt.

"We know there's no rule against a club calling another club and requesting that a player be included in a deal," Curran said. "But if that team were to make such a deal, they would be assuming as big a problem as they have now with their player who doesn't want to be in Edmonton.

"They'll have added to their problem with a player who doesn't want to leave Toronto."

Kaberle, who had 67 points in 82 games last year, is fretting about the rumours.

"Obviously it's tough to hear that talk," Kaberle said yesterday from his home in the Czech Republic. "If I knew something like this was going to happen, maybe I would've waited to the summer (and become a free agent).

"I was happy with Toronto. That's why I signed. I'm not bitter, but what can you do (except wait for Saturday). I never thought I'd be dealing with this situation."

Curran, who has had many high-profile Leaf clients through the years, acknowledeged Toronto general manager John Ferguson did not guarantee he wouldn't trade Kaberle before July 1.

"But in the spirit of discussions we had with John in February, we understood the Leafs would honour the intent of the agreement -- that Tomas wished to remain in Toronto," Curran said.

"Tomas based his decision on showing intent he wanted to stay. He realizes he left money on the table by signing as early as he did."

As of Saturday, Kaberle can't be traded for the first three years of his contract. The fourth year will depend on a good playoff performance by the Leafs in 2008-09.

"He made a commitment, we made a commitment, it was good faith on both sides," Ferguson agreed.

Like Kaberle, Ferguson was not expecting to address questions on a Kaberle trade.

But he also can't ignore a recent Norris Trophy winner coming on the market.

"You've heard this before, but Wayne Gretzky was traded," Ferguson said in not ruling out some kind of Oilers-Leafs' deal.

"Aside from that, we are not looking to trade our top players. If we have an opportunity to improve our club, we'll explore it."


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