The Top 5 Trade Destinations for Phil Kessel

Justin Fisher
May 30 2015 06:29PM

There's a lot of good reasons to keep Phil Kessel in Toronto - perhaps just as many as there are to trade him. Kessel is a 27-year old elite goal scorer; the kind of high end talent that doesn't become available very often. Normally, it'd be silly to think of trading away such a player, but the Maple Leafs (if you haven't heard) are about to embark on what will likely be a long and painful rebuild. 

Kessel is not old, but he is in his prime. By the time Toronto comes out on the other side, he may not be the player he once was. On top of that, Kessel is the Leafs' most valuable trade chip, and moving him now might accelerate the rebuild by years. That's not an exaggeration.

The issue is, while pretty much any team would gladly employ Kessel, there aren't many that can afford him. He's got an $8M cap hit until 2022, which I'd argue is more than fair price, there aren't many teams that A) have that kind of cap space and B) are looking to improve dramatically in the short term. Kessel is not a fit for a rebuilding team, but would be immensely valuable to a club that's looking to take the next step or simply solidify themselves as a perennial Stanley Cup Contender. 

So where should he end up? Here's the five teams I'd be calling if I were looking to deal Phil Kessel...

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First Round Targets: Brock Boeser

Justin Fisher
May 29 2015 06:17PM


Photo: YouTube

We continue on with our First Round Targets series with our first USHL player - the Waterloo Black Hawks' Brock Boeser. Committed to the University of North Dakota next year, Boeser is a 6'1, 191lb winger that's known most of all for his goal-scoring ability.

The Numbers

Boeser is ranked all over the map, so it's hard to say whether he'll be gone before the Leafs make the 24th overall selection, or if he'll slip right out of the first round altogether. NHL Central Scouting has him 28th among North American skaters, as does McKeen's. On Future Considerations' list Boeser is 26th, on Hockey Prospect's he's 14th, and on Corey Pronman's he's 31st. Sportsnet's Damien Cox has him 24th and TSN's Craig Button, somehow, has him 9th. 

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TLN Roundtable - Should Phaneuf and Kessel Stick Around for the Babcock Era?

Justin Fisher
May 29 2015 04:12PM

Just a few days ago, it was a given that the Toronto Maple Leafs would dismantle the core of their roster and start all over again with a fresh and exciting rebuild. Things changed a bit when Mike Babcock was announced as the club's next head coach, with many wondering how much talent and production could be squeezed out of Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf by one of hockey's best bench bosses. 

Does Babcock's arrival mean a little more rope for Kessel and Phaneuf? Should the Leafs maybe not flip them for youngsters and assets this offseason? Our TLN Roundtable discusses...

Justin Fisher

I've been on the "trade everything" bandwagon since day one, and as much as it pains me to say it, I still am. I love Phil Kessel, and I also kind of like Dion Phaneuf, but for a team that is looking to rebuild they are the two most obvious pieces to move.

Like many, I anticipate that Mike Babcock will instantly make the Toronto Maple Leafs a better team, but I'm sure as hell not convinced that means Toronto is suddenly a playoff team. An actual koala with a clipboard and a fedora could coach this team to a better record next year. With that, I'm not ready to say "hey, we're close, let's regroup with our current core and give it a run under Babcock." That's ridiculous.

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Report: Toronto Looking to Add Granato, Hiller and Brewer to Coaching Staff

Justin Fisher
May 28 2015 07:12PM

It appears as if Toronto isn't done poaching coaches from the Detroit Red Wings.

We already knew that Hiller and Brewer in particular were rumoured to be heading to Toronto, but I'm not sure I've heard any firm reports about the Leafs' (and Babcock's) interest in bringing in Granato until now.

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WWYDW - Who's Your Pick at 24th Overall?

Justin Fisher
May 27 2015 07:09PM

It's easy to pick a good hockey player with the fourth overall pick, but as swell guy Kyle Dubas has already told us, the Toronto Maple Leafs need to hit a home run with their 24th overall selection as well. Good teams pick good players when the good players are supposed to be all gone, and the idea is that the Leafs want to be a good team.

We at TLN have already begun prepping you with profiles of players that might be available to Toronto come pick #24 - here's Nick Merkley and Travis Konecny and Thomas Chabot. We'll continue to roll a lot more of these profiles out as the Draft nears, but that doesn't mean you guys have to sit quiet until then. 

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