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Can Steven Kampfer Replace Tomas Kaberle?

NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 17:  Steven Kampfer plays defense against the Nashville Predators on March 17, 2011 at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 17: Steven Kampfer plays defense against the Nashville Predators on March 17, 2011 at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
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With free agency under a day away, the Boston Bruins recently made some news when it was announced that they have offered the rights to UFA Tomas Kaberle to anyone in the league that is interested in signing him. Therefore, for all intents and purposes the Bruins and Tomas Kaberle are going to part ways, unless the market is not what Kaberle expected and he is forced to take a discount. The question then becomes: how do the Bruins replace him? Do they Bruins use a prospect from inside the organization like Steven Kampfer? Do the Bruins sign a big name free agent defensemen to a very large contract like Christian Ehrhoff or James Wisniewski, if they are not signed by the teams that recently traded for their rights? Do the Bruins make a trade for someone who could fill that role like Zach Bogosian?

Many people believe that the Bruins are going to let Tomas Kaberle walk because they realize how much money is going to be spent this year on free agents due to the increase in the salary cap. Which in turn means that the Bruins don't want to spent that kind of money, so using a player like Steven Kampfer could very well be the solution. Kampfer played in 38 games last year as a Bruins and showed a little bit of what he could do early on before getting a concussion which ended his season with the big club.

A look at the two players after the jump.

Tomas Kaberle

#12 / Defenseman / Boston Bruins



Mar 02, 1978

G A P +/- PIM
2010 - Tomas Kaberle 4 43 47 4 18

Tomas Kaberle finished regular season with the Boston Bruins scoring just 1 goal and piling up just 8 assists in 24 games. However he was able to add 11 assists in 25 games during the playoffs, tying Dennis Seidenberg as the Bruins leading scorer from the back end. Although Tomas Kaberle did not improve the power play or our offensive output from our defense, he did improve the Bruins transition game during his time here. Kaberle certainly went through his struggles in his brief time with the Bruins, is 40 games with a new team enough to overrule 10 years of him being one of the best player making defensemen in the league?

Steven Kampfer

#47 / Defenseman / Boston Bruins



Sep 24, 1988

G A P +/- PIM
2010 - Steven Kampfer 5 5 10 9 12

Steven Kampfer came up from the minors after playing so well down there to start the year and continued that good play with the Bruins early. He potted 5 goals and added 3 assists in his first 20 games with the club, however his play soon tailed off and he was only able to add 2 more assits to that total before his season ended due to his concussion. He finished the year off with 5 goals, 5 assists in 38 games and even added 41 hits in that time span (4 more than Kaberle laid in 82 regular season games). Was Kampfer's play an indicator of what he could do for this Bruins team with an increased roll next year or was a just an anomaly?

Unfortunately, we have seen this phenomenon (of having rookie defensemen play well for half a year in a limited role) recently with former Bruin Matt Hunwick. In Hunwick's first year with the team in 2008-09, he scored 6 goals and tallied 21 assists in 53 games and seemed to be a key piece for the future of the club. Well after a significant raise and an increased role, Hunwick turned out to be nothing more than a #6 or #7 defensemen with lots of holes in his game. The reason we are looking at the past play of Matt Hunwick is because there are a lot of similarities between the two players. Both Hunwick and Kampfer measure 5'11" tall, both weigh in at around 190 pounds, both were born in Michigan, both went to the University of Michigan and both played less than a year of pro hockey before they were called up to the Bruins. So in order to avoid a similar fate, I believe it is in the Bruins best interests to keep Kampfer in a limited role as the 7th defensemen and injury replacement on this team for another year to help his development. That is why I am of the opinion that the Bruins should do their best to re-sign Tomas Kaberle. Also, I believe that with a full offseason and training camp in the club he will do many of the things that were expected of him right away. What do you think?

Should the Bruins pass on Kaberle and give the role to Steven Kampfer? Can he do the job well enough to allow the Bruins to contend for the Stanley Cup again next year? If the Bruins pass on Kaberle should the Bruins fill the hole via a trade instread? What are your thoughts?