Bruins acquire Tomas Kaberle

Updated: February 18, 2011, 11:51 PM ET
ESPNBoston.com

The Boston Bruins made a flurry of moves on Friday, the biggest acquiring veteran defenseman Tomas Kaberle from the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Bruins will send minor league forward Joe Colborne, a first-round pick in 2011 and another conditional second-round draft pick to Toronto.

"It's a strong message to our team and fans that we want to win and we want to be successful," Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said.

"It's a young team and fast and I think they've got a lot of expectations, and I'm the same way," Kaberle said Friday night following Boston's 4-2 win over the Ottawa Senators.

The Bruins needed to clear cap space to absorb the remainder of Kaberle's $4.25 million salary this season, so they turned around and traded forward Blake Wheeler and defenseman Mark Stuart to the Atlanta Thrashers for center Rich Peverley and defenseman Boris Valabik.

"I looked at the two deals tied together and how they have improved our team," Chiarelli said. "We felt that we needed a player like Tomas, a player with good vision, a good skater, can quarterback a power play, has played many, many games in the league. Very smart, heavy player, can skate. ... It was an important piece for us to get, and obviously we had to pay a price."

Kaberle, 32, is en route to Ottawa, barring a travel setback, is expected to be in the Bruins' lineup Friday night against the Senators.

He has spent his entire career in Toronto and has made four All-Star teams. This season Kaberle has three goals and 35 assists and is a minus-2 in 58 games.

"On behalf of our entire organization I would like to thank Tomas for all of his many outstanding contributions to the Toronto Maple Leafs on the ice, and in the community," Leafs general manager Brian Burke said in a statement. "He has been a model citizen and it's never easy to trade a player that has conducted himself as professionally as Tomas has for the past 13 years."

Kaberle will become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Chiarelli said the Bruins will wait until after the season to talk with Kaberle about an extension.

"He's a guy that we want to re-sign," Chiarelli said. "Of course there is a chance we won't re-sign him, but I want to re-sign him, we want to re-sign him. ... I think it would be smooth sailing to sign him when it comes to that time. So it's an important part of this deal because we are giving up significant assets."

Selected in the eighth round of the 1996 draft by Toronto, Kaberle appeared in just two AHL games before making the jump to the NHL. He's represented the Czech Republic in three Olympics -- winning bronze in 2006 -- and leaves Toronto as the franchise's second-highest scoring defenseman in history.

His 520 points (83 goals and 437 assists) trail only the 762 registered by Borje Salming.

Wheeler has spent his entire three-year NHL career with the Bruins. He has 11 goals and 16 assists this season. His best year came in his rookie campaign when he posted 21 goals and 24 assists.

Stuart has also spent his entire six-year career with Boston. He's a plus-8 this season and was also rumored to be heading to the Blackhawks, who were looking for a penalty-killing defenseman.

Thrashers general manager Rick Dudley said the trade for Wheeler, a forward, and Stuart, a defenseman, improves the team "in both the short and long term."

Peverley has 14 goals and 20 assists this season. Valabik has been playing for the Chicago Wolves of the AHL.

Peverley will join the Bruins in Boston on Sunday and Valabik will report to Providence of the AHL.

The trade deadline is Feb. 28.

The Leafs are currently six points behind the Hurricanes for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference, while the Bruins are pushing the Lightning for the second spot.

It was the third deal for the Maple Leafs in a little over a week. Francois Beauchemin was dealt to Anaheim on Feb. 9 for Joffrey Lupul and a prospect, and Kris Versteeg was sent to Philadelphia on Feb. 14 for first- and third-round picks in 2011.

The 6-foot-5, 190-pound Colborne was taken in the first round, 16th overall, by the Bruins in the 2008 draft. He scored 22 goals and added 19 assists for the University of Denver in 2009-10 and signed his first pro contract last March. He's got 12 goals and 14 assists for Providence of the AHL this season.

"We are happy to add another first-round draft pick and a solid prospect in Joe Colborne," Burke said in the statement. "He brings a unique combination of skill, vision and size.

Colborne was assigned to the American Hockey League's Toronto Marlies after the trade.

Chiarelli said the Bruins likely won't make any other major moves.

"If I do anything else, it will be something very small," he said. "For the most part, we're done."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

MORE NHL HEADLINES