When you think about the quintessential NHL-to-KHL player, three types come to mind: Homesick Russians looking to make bank; marginal pros that shuttle back and forth from the AHL; and former stars who have either priced themselves out of a gig or whose skills have eroded to the point where they’re more liabilities than luxuries for teams.
Guess in which category Tomas Kaberle falls?
The 35-year-old defenseman is close to an agreement with Dinamo Minsk, according to Czech publication Sport. Kaberle spent the last 15 years in the NHL, spending the majority of them with the Toronto Maple Leafs before riding the Boston Bruins’ coattails to the Stanley Cup.
Minsk Coach Alois Hadamczik tells Sport he thinks Kaberle will thrive on the larger ice and that he’s a “serious contender” for the Czech Olympic team.
Kaberle was done as an NHL player. His last two stops have been disastrous: Signing a 3-year deal with the Carolina Hurricanes, and then being traded just 29 games into the 2011-12 season to the Montreal Canadiens; and then getting a compliance buyout from the Habs with one year left on his deal at $4.25 million. He didn’t play a game after March 5, with Montreal concerned he’d get injured and hence wouldn’t be eligible for a buyout.
Wrote the Gazette: “The Canadiens cleaned up another of former general manager Pierre Gauthier’s mistakes by buying out the final year on defenceman Tomas Kaberle’s contract.”
So off he goes to the KHL, where Kevin Dallman clearly has some new competition for the Russian Norris.