For the first time in years, it sounds like Phil Kessel might be thinking of greener pastures.
Kessel on uncertain future: “I go where they want me. I love Toronto. If it’s not here it’s not here.”
— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) February 13, 2015
Now, of course, this isn’t to say that Phil Kessel has requested a trade out of here. From the sounds of it (we’ll know for sure once the full scrum is up online), the question asked was about reports saying the team may consider shopping him. No surprise that something like this would be asked; it’s not traditional post-game fodder, but Kessel has been absent from the last couple of media availabilities.
In fact, I would be hard pressed to say that this is something he’s encouraging. Kessel has had nothing but positive things to say about the city, has suffered through lower points, and is still young enough to be a very good if not still elite player by the time the Leafs finish a full rebuild cycle. His recent eight year commitment to the team despite there being potential for more money via free agency in a market where chunks of the media and fanbase aren’t constantly breathing on his back is a good reflection of that.
However, the Leafs are very openly exploring all options as far as making sure this team is competitive in the long haul. I have no doubt in my mind that they’re at least looking into what Kessel’s value could be, though I also feel (at least, hope), that there’s a decent list of players that they’d like to sell on now before getting to him.
I guess we’ll find out for certain in the next couple of weeks.