Report: The Leafs are looking to move Kessel ASAP

It’s been no secret over the last few weeks that the Leafs have the intention of moving Phil Kessel. But that intention seems to be getting more and more serious as we approach the draft – the talk of acquiring more picks, the amount of players they seem to like in this year’s class, and the whole “there’s going to be a lot of pain” quote from Mike Babcock and company. 

But nothing has made it more obvious than this bit from Damien Cox yesterday:

In particular, there’s a widespread belief, as first reported a week ago by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, that the Leafs are making known their intent to deal Kessel before the draft, which could then trigger other moves.

Friedman’s report last week did mention Kessel being a major topic at the combine, but the urgency on the side of the Leafs was not indicated. Now, it seems like as long as the Leafs get a deal they like – which will have to mostly involve picks in the return – they’ll pull the trigger so they can load up at this year’s draft.

Despite what most say, it shouldn’t be difficult to get a good return for Phil, as noted by Cox.

Kessel, meanwhile, has seven years to go at $8 million per, but even in an off, off season he potted 25 goals. There’s no obvious match here, but lots of teams failed in the playoffs or missed them because they struggled to score and could have interest in the winger.

The St. Louis Blues, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, Nashville Predators, and Winnipeg Jets could all be candidates after their playoff exits. The Minnesota Wild has always seemed like a match for Phil, while the New Jersey Devils, Carolina Hurricanes, and draft hosts Florida Panthers all had issues scoring in the regular season. The only issue for a bunch of these teams is, of course, the cap hit. The Jets would be a great sleeper trading partner for the Leafs – they have two 1sts and a huge arsenal of solid prospects, and Phil is great friends with Blake Wheeler. Plus, they need someone to ostracize now that Evander Kane is gone. Another team that could’ve used Phil’s services? The Boston Bruins, who finished 23rd in scoring this season.

Oh, and Kessel isn’t the only player the Leafs are looking to move.

Bozak and Lupul would be the next two on the list, and if Kessel can’t be moved, they are easier to deal. Lupul has three years left at $5.25 million, Bozak three more at $4.2 million.

I don’t know if Bozak or Lupul is easier to deal than Kessel, but it’s good to know they’re on the list. Those two need to go.

It seems like the Leafs intend to trade everyone that can get them a return that helps the rebuild.

It’s going to be a franchise-altering couple weeks.

P.S. I Love You, Phil.

  • Quinten Smids

    I hope this deal happens before the draft so if we trade for a 1st in can be in 2015 and I can cheer for Kessel to win a Cup.

    Really hope we get a deal done before the season so we don’t have to hear Kessel rumors all year. Although Kessel under Babcock may be fun, it’s just not worth a whole year of speculation.

  • V

    This is going to come back to bite us in the ass. Lupul-Bozak-Kessel was the best thing we had going over the last few seasons. If Bozak an Kessel get dealt together whoever gets them will probably win the Cup next year. We better be getting a beast of a first line center and a loooot of good picks in return.

  • Brooksterman

    It seems to me that because they want to get these trades done before the draft that means that they are looking for draft picks in this year’s draft in return for the players they move out. I would almost rule out any team that doesn’t have a 1st round pick in this year’s draft for Kessel unless they’re giving up more ie. St. Louis offering both Fabbri and Rattie.