After years of speculation and rumours, Tomas Kaberle is heading to the Boston Bruins.
The veteran defenceman practised with the Toronto Maple Leafs this afternoon but was not made available to media afterwards as news filtered out he had waived his no-trade clause for a deal to the Bruins.
The Leafs will receive prospect centre Joe Colborne, the Bruins' first-round pick and a conditional second-round pick in 2012 if Kaberle - an unrestricted free agent this summer - signs a new contract in Boston or if they make the Stanley Cup final.
"It just was time to move on," Kaberle told Rogers Sportsnet.
"We are happy to add another first-round draft pick and a solid prospect in Joe Colborne," Leafs general manager Brian Burke said in a statement. "He brings a unique combination of skill, vision and size.
"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. 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."
Burke met with the media at 4:30 today to discuss the trade.
Colborne is currently playing in the AHL with the Providence Bruins, where he has 12 goals and 26 points in 55 games as a rookie.
The 21-year-old from Calgary was Boston's first-round pick, 16th overall, in the 2008 NHL draft and at 6-foot-5 and 213 pounds, brings the size down the middle that the Leafs need. Colborne, however, is considered very raw and inconsistent and is likely a ways away from contributing at the NHL level.
The New England Hockey Journal has a good scouting report on what Toronto is getting in Colborne, which includes the statement that his "uneven intensity/effort levels from game to game are biggest obstacles to winning a big-league job."
He is the son of Calgary oil and gas millionare Paul Colborne.
Kaberle, meanwhile, becomes the third Leafs veteran to be dealt in the past 10 days, joining Francois Beauchemin and Kris Versteeg as those who have been traded away mostly for prospects and draft picks. Toronto now has two late first-round picks: one from the Philadelphia Flyers from the Versteeg deal and one from the Bruins from this latest trade.
Leafs players were informed of the pending deal after practice today but didn't seem overly surprised at the news.
"I don't really know what to say," said Luke Schenn, Kaberle's defence partner. "It's been talked about ever since I've been here. It's obviously a tough decision to make for him ... It's tough for me. He's been good for me, he's been a veteran presence that I've played alongside now for two of the three years [in the NHL]"
"Probably one of the nicest guys ever," winger Colby Armstrong said. "Always got a smile on his face. He's here first guy in the morning all the time, he's ready to go. Can't say enough about him as a teammate."
Boston is in the process of making another deal in order to free up salary cap space for the remainder of Kaberle's $4.25-million contract, one which will see Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart to the Atlanta Thrashers for Rich Peverley and Boris Valabik.
Boston adds $5.575-million in salary to the cap with Kaberle and Peverley. (Valabik will not count against cap given he's in minors.) They also deal away $3.875-million in salary between Wheeler and Stuart. The Bruins had some salary cap space to work with given Marc Savard is on injured reserve and not expected back this season (concussion).
The Leafs, meanwhile, now have even more salary cap space to work with, as Colborne will start with the Marlies. As with the Versteeg deal, this gives Burke a lot of flexibility heading into free agency on July 1, where it's likely he will look to replace Kaberle with a younger, puck-moving defenceman.
Kaberle, 32, leaves Toronto as one of the longest serving Leafs defencemen ever, ranking third among blueliners with 878 regular-season games played. Drafted in the eighth round in 1996, his first season in Toronto was 1998-99 and he has played in four all-star games.
He ranks 11th in career points as a Leaf with 520 and is seventh among defencemen in scoring in the NHL this season.