Three Possible Destinations for Phil Kessel


Prolific Toronto Maple Leafs right winger Phil Kessel had a rough 2014-15 season. It was the first of his six seasons with the Leafs where he failed to score 30 goals or more (sans the 2012-13 lockout season), and also the first season that he didn’t lead the team in goals.

And with the hiring of no-nonsense head coach in Mike Babcock, a trade involving the disgruntled forward has turned into a priority for the Leafs to start their rebuilding phase.

Kessel’s massive contract of $8 million per year through 2022 will be a big road block in the way of attracting the right buyers for a right price. The Leafs’ can also afford his release considering that their early 2016 Stanley Cup odds (found at NHL betting site TopBet) aren’t exactly favorable. What’s to lose but a big contract? Nevertheless, Kessel is a top talent that can make any (other) team better.

Kessel has a no-trade clause that that allows him to select eight teams that he would prefer to be traded to. Those teams are: Chicago, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Montreal, New York Rangers, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

From that list of preferred destinations, here are the three teams that can benefit most from Kessel’s services.

Los Angeles Kings

In terms of having previous talks about a trade for Kessel in place, the Los Angeles Kings have that upper hand. The Kings offered to trade their own regressing center in Mike Richards earlier this past season to the Maple Leafs, but nothing really materialized afterwards.

Josh Cooper of Yahoo Sports cited that Los Angeles General Manager Dean Lombardi’s previous success in reviving the careers of Jeff Carter and Marian Gaborik, and Kessel already has the tools to make an immediate impact. Plus, Kessel wouldn’t have to worry about being in the spotlight as much as he was in Toronto. He can just focus on getting a lot of points for the team instead of having to actually worry about lifting them to victory each game.

Montreal Canadiens

Days prior to the announcement of Kessel’s list of teams for his no-trade-clause, Bleacher Report already picked up on the idea of Kessel going to the Canadiens. The site mentioned that the Habs are in desperate need of more offense outside of Max Pacioretty, and Kessel is just the man to fill that void.

A big stumbling block of the deal is whether or not the Habs will be willing to part with younger players like Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk in favour of getting Kessel. But the Canadiens are perennial Stanley Cup contenders, and getting the Toronto forward to add the much-needed firepower for their offense next season seems like a no-brainer for the win-now-or-never club.

Philadelphia Flyers

James Tanner from The Hockey Writers had the idea back in May that Philly would be the best place for all parties involved. Kassel would benefit a lot from playing next to Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek, and Philadelphia’s frontline would be bolstered with Kessel’s presence.
In turn, the Leafs can start anew with a stellar young center in the Flyers’ Sean Couturier. Couturier was touted by Tanner as a great two-way center that a team can build around if only the 22-year old would be given a bigger role in another team.

23 Responses to Three Possible Destinations for Phil Kessel

  1. nordiques100 says:

    The Flyers have some bad cap problems. Not sure an 8 mil cap hit will help, unless they get rid of 3 or 4 of their bad contracts.

    Plus too, they need D help. I think the team can score enough. The issue is their defence, which is awful. If assets are to be traded, its likely for defence help first and foremost.

    As for LA, well they too need to clear some cap. That could happen moving Richards no problem. But, they too need D help. What is going to happen with Voynov? And don’t they need to re-sign guys like Kopitar soon? Plus, they have a similar guy in Gaborik. I think talent is less a problem there and its more a style of play. but it hurts the offence there most when they have just 1 good puck moving D.

    I dont think Montreal is an option because they wont be moving Galchenyuk. I dont think any package of the rest of their young players is really all that worth it to be honest. I like Fucale, I like Beaulieu but I am not sure that is enough for Kessel.

    There are other teams in the mix. I mentioned Columbus earlier.

    I am not sure if the Devils have interest. They did say when Shero was hired, they would like to find a way to improve their anemic offence.

    Carolina is an outside option.

    Florida has been mentioned. I wonder though, with the draft in Florida, would they trade their 1st rounder. Probably not.

    Nashville has been mentioned. They don’t have a 1st to give up having traded it to Toronto already.

    And there was talk of the Flames with there being a connection there with Burke. But I think that is a longshot like Montreal.

    There was some talk of the Islanders too. That would be interesting. Moving to Brooklyn, they may want to make a splash.

    • Steven_Leafs0 says:

      Philadelphia is a solid option as they have Umberger and Lecavalier that can be used as cap dumps. A deal involving their 7th overall, a young top 6 forward and a top prospect with a bad contract could work. Heck if they are willing to throw in a 2016 1st we can take both Lecavalier and Umberger and actually free up cap space for Philadelphia to sign a defenseman.

      Alternatively we can always give them Phaneuf. He would play so well with Hartnell. Lol.

      • doorman says:

        Snider wants to win and doesn’t care about rebuilding. I could see the Leafs willing to take both Vinnie and RJ and more for the 7th, 29th picks but the Flyers I think would need to add, IMO.

        • nordiques100 says:

          Maybe something that involves 7th, Scott Laughton, Lecavalier, Andrew McDonald for Gardiner and the 24th pick?

          The Leafs move up in the draft, but take on bad salaries. However, they get a decent prospect in Laughton.

          The Flyers will still pick twice in the 1st round, but also land a Dman who could help them, and isnt’ signed to that bad of a contract.

  2. leafy says:

    Don’t be surprised if the Leafs trade Bernier.

    • Steven_Leafs0 says:

      wont be this off season though. There are too many goalies available right now, some from FA. Unless someone really wants him and overpaid hard there is no reason to do this now.

      • nordiques100 says:

        Alternatively, should the Leafs and Bernier not agree to terms on a new contract, the Leafs could definitely explore trading him now, and make the contract signing someone else’s problem.

        It all depends. If he is looking for 5-6 mil per season, if it were up to me, i would be telling Bernier, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

        • Steven_Leafs0 says:

          True but a short term deal worth $4-5 over 2-3 years is a solid signing. Worse cas he doesn’t work out and you flip him on his final year eating half of the contract. Someone will take the risk.

          Since his salary last year was $3.4M that is what his qualifying offer would be so $4-5M is probably what we would have to pay him, likely on the smaller end of that range.

          • leafy says:

            Given that there isn’t a huge difference between Bernier and Reimer, AND we’re not competing for the Cup any time soon, I’d try my best to trade Bernier now and go back to Reimer as number 1.

            What’s the worst that can happen? Reimer proves to be awful and end up with another top 5 pick?

            • Steven_Leafs0 says:

              I’m ok with that IF we get more than what we paid. We lost the 34th overall pick along with Scrivins (nothing) and Frattin (D’Amigo). If we can get a late 1st for Bernier then I say move him. Otherwise just hang onto him and see if his value rises.

  3. leafy says:

    Reading some articles on Twitter from different cities, the media in other cities is not very keen on acquiring Kessel. They see Kessel as a good player, but not worth a steep price like high draft pick or top prospect. PLUS an $8 mil cap hit through age 34.

    If media is any indication, it’s going to be a tall order to get a hefty return for Kessel. If a top 10 pick in this upcoming draft was offered, I’d take it immediately and say thank you.

    • TmLeafan says:

      I think hes worth considerably more than a top 10 pick on its own. If that pick doesn’t work out you have dealt one of the top scorers in the league for basically nothing.

      Also I think Kessel has another solid 5 years of elite scoring left in him. That is pretty enticing for a GM looking to add. He is 27 now not like hes over the hill by any means. Had a bad second half but so did literally every single leaf with the exception of Rielly and David Booth so wouldn’t put too much stock in it

      • leafy says:

        Well the one thing the Leafs have going for them is that the UFA pool is thin. So now might be an ideal time to deal Kessel.

  4. LN91 says:

    Philadelphia is an interesting option. They probably need Phaneuf more.

    • Steven_Leafs0 says:

      Agreed. Offer to take on Umberger and Lecavalier and we should be able to get more than the 7th and 29th picks in return (previously impossible without the cap dumps ).

  5. nordiques100 says:

    The Leafs traded Greg McKegg today for Zach Hyman from the Panthers.

    He was like Mike Reilly, a college player drafted, but who was not willing to sign with the team that drafted him.

    He is from Toronto, so I think the Leafs have a decent chance to sign him.

    He is a centre, and depending on what happens with the team, he may get some playing time this coming year.

  6. kessel_leafs81 says:

    i would love for the leafs to shoot for mike reilly, i really liked his play in the world juniors

    • nordiques100 says:

      I’d be shocked if he didn’t sign with the Wild where his dad is one of the minority owners.

      • doorman says:

        Yes, I agree he is going to the Wild as well.

        On a separate note looks like lots of rumors heating up between Kessel, Phaneuf, Okposo and San Jose making a move. I just want to see something so we have other than speculation to discuss, lol.

        Anyone like or dislike the Hyman trade?

        • Steven_Leafs0 says:

          It was alright, I like that we only have up a long shot prospect for him. Potential no risk / decent reward trade.

        • nordiques100 says:

          It was a smart way to acquire more talent. McKegg was only going to amount to an AHLer.

          Hyman was one of the Panthers top 10 prospects. He had a good year at Michigan, and is an older prospect like Chase Bailey and should have a decent chance to make the team.

          A lot will depend on what they will be doing with their veteran players and if they’re going to add more veterans. Plus too, will they go with the Detroit model, have prospects spend a bit of time in the AHL before being promoted.

          • Steven_Leafs0 says:

            Yep and playing these college grads is a great way to play prospects now without “rushing” them. I hope both Bailey and Hyman are given a solid shot (like 20 games). Worse case they are not quite ready and our team is worse for 20 games.


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