Burke: Get ready to pay up for Kaberle

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:45 AM ET

When Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke claims he must be "blown away" by any offer in order to deal Tomas Kaberle, we now know just how high that asking price will be.

In Burke's opinion, any package for Kaberle would have to include, at the very least:

1. A first-round draft pick.

2. A guy who could step in and play for our team right now.

3. A (highly regarded) prospect.

Said Burke yesterday: "It would have to be a package like I paid to Edmonton for Chris Pronger."

As the general manager of the Anaheim Ducks at the time, Burke paid a hefty price to land Pronger back on July 3, 2006.

In order to obtain the all-star blue liner, Burke gave up forward Joffrey Lupul, who was coming off a 28-goal season with the Ducks; defenceman Ladislav Smid, the ninth overall pick in the 2004 entry draft; a first-round pick in 2007; a second-round pick in 2008; and a conditional pick.

"I've been on the other side of the asking price," Burke said. "I know what it will take."

Burke reiterated that he does not expect Kaberle to be moved by the March 4 trade deadline.

"Tomas Kaberle wants to be a Toronto Maple Leaf," Burke said. "I've said all along that I would honour the no-trade deals guys have. Just because the GM has changed doesn't mean I should go back on John Ferguson's word."

Ferguson was the GM who gave Kaberle, among others, the no-trade clause in his contract.

In the event the Leafs do not reach the post-season, Kaberle's no-trade clause becomes moot from the June entry draft through Aug. 15, a seven-week window in which the team does not need the player's approval to move him.

A year ago, then-GM Cliff Fletcher had a deal in place with the Philadelphia Flyers that would have netted forward Jeff Carter and a first-round pick. But any potential trade was scuttled when Kaberle refused to waive his no-trade clause.

Kaberle's annual salary of $4.25 million US makes him a relative bargain for a puck-moving defenceman, meaning Burke would have no problem keeping him moving forward.

Kaberle, who has been out for almost a month with a fractured hand, hopes to return to the Leafs lineup Saturday for a game against the Senators in Ottawa.

CAUTION

Meanwhile, Burke cautioned fans against expecting an entire facelift of the roster in the next week.

"It (likely) won't be as much as people think," he said. "But we will be active."

As for re-signing his own players to extensions, Burke said he does not believe in the whopping long-term deals being handed out by some teams.

"My personal limit implemented by me in Anaheim was five years," he said.


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