Trading Kaberle could kill Leafs' playoff push

Toronto Maple Leafs Tomas Kaberle during the teams pre-game skate on Monday at Scotiabank Place....

Toronto Maple Leafs Tomas Kaberle during the teams pre-game skate on Monday at Scotiabank Place. (Errol McGihon/QMI AGENCY)

ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:14 PM ET

The poker player in Brian Burke has his challenges these days.

On the one hand, the Toronto Maple Leafs general manager has the chance to keep dealing, most notably defenceman Tomas Kaberle.

On the other, he finds his team on the fringes of the playoff race, just six points out in the Eastern Conference after a 2-1 win Wednesday in Buffalo.

Burke addressed both topics on an interview with NHL Live, first stressing that a Kaberle deal with Boston “is not done.” That said, Burke acknowledged he has talked to multiple teams about the veteran defenceman, who would need to waive his no-trade contract to be moved.

“I’m not going to bug him every time a GM calls,” Burke said of Kaberle, amid speculation that a deal could be completed during the next day or two.

“I’m leaving him alone. He has played well for us and he’s a quality person.

(But) my guess is if we found something attractive and if we went back to the agent he might accept it.” As for his team’s playoff prospects, Burke understands the excitement over the possibility but cautions the odds are still stacked against them.

“The tricky math is, you say it’s only six points and eyes start to glisten,” Burke said. “The problem is with all the three-point games, making up six points is difficult.

“It’s not as simple as winning your own games.” To that end, Burke says he doesn’t want to make rash decisions based solely on this spring, moves that might deviate from the longer plan.

“The notion of getting in eighth (in the Eastern Conference) and getting spanked in the first round doesn’t do a hell of a lot for me and I don’t think it does a lot for our marketplace,” Burke said. “We’re not just putting together a team that’s going to get thumped in the first round.” Burke also addressed the team’s injury woes in net. He suggested Jonas Gustavsson might be back earlier than expected from a heart procedure that has sidelined him for a week.

And there’s a reasonable chance Ben Scrivens ‹ currently the only healthy goalie with the AHL Marlies ‹ will be called up to the Leafs on the weekend.

As for the starting situation: “We’re probably going to ride (James Reimer) a little bit here,” Burke said.

rob.longley@sunmedia.ca

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