|Former Red Wing Brett Lebda has joined the Blue and White in Toronto. (Dave Abel/QMI AGENCY)
The Maple Leafs have picked up Red Wings’ free agent depth defenceman Brett Lebda, further evidence that a Tomas Kaberle deal is around the corner.
The 28-year-old Lebda signed for two years, at a reported $1.45 million US a season. General manager Brian Burke told the Toronto Sun a few days ago he was pursuing one more veteran defenceman that would allow him to concentrate on getting a quality forward for Kaberle during the latter’s trade window, which closes Aug. 15.
The Leafs, who traded for Chicago Blackhawks' Cup champion forward Kris Versteeg a week ago, highlighted Lebda’s playoff record in their release, 62 games during the past five years, including 42 in the two most recent years that Detroit was in the Stanley Cup final. In 2008 when Detroit won it, Lebda played in 19 playoff games and averaged 12:33 of ice time.
The 5-foot-9 Lebda, from Buffalo Grove, Ill., was a CCHA all-star with Notre Dame, achieving 85 points in 152 games. He signed with Detroit as a free agent six years ago this month and has 68 points in 326 regular-season games, many of them paired with Chicago-area pal Chris Chelios.
His arrival and Kaberle’s departure would give the Leafs a starting six blueline of Dion Phaneuf, Francois Beauchemin, Mike Komisarek, Luke Schenn, Carl Gunnarsson and himself The seventh job would likely be between Keith Aulie, Simon Gysbers, Juraj Mikus and Jesse Blacker, though Blacker has a year of junior eligibility remaining.