The Florida Panthers Are “Interested” in Phil Kessel

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The buzzards are beginning to circle…

According to Harvey Fialkov of the Sun Sentinel, the Florida Panthers might be looking to add some significant firepower to their roster in the form of one Philip J. Kessel. 

From the man himself…

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This is, uh, well… pretty obvious? I’m pretty certain that 29 teams in the NHL are interested in acquiring Kessel, one of the league’s premier goal scorers, if they can do so without giving up any of their “young studs”. That being said, at least we can now identify at least one team with a level of certainty.

So who are the studs that Florida doesn’t want to part with? One would safely assume that 2014 first overall pick Aaron Ekblad is one, and 2013 second overall pick Aleksander Barkov is another. I’d hazard a guess that 6’6 centre and the Panthers’ leading scorer, Nick Bjugstad, is also untouchable.

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So pretty much immediately, the idea of trading Kessel to Florida becomes a lot less exciting.

That being said, there’s still some nice pieces in the Florida organization. The Panthers are currently a non-playoff team, so their 2015 first round pick could be of particular interest. Could a current roster player like Jonathan Huberdeau or Erik Gudbranson be available (or even desirable)? Or maybe you look a little deeper into the Panthers organization and focus on one of their second-tier, but still very good prospects, like first year pro Rocco Grimaldi or Boston College standout Mike Matheson.

Whatever the case, Panthers GM Dale Tallon has a penchant for acquiring star talent for next-to-nothing… think Roberto Luongo or Brian Campbell. If Florida doesn’t want to give up significant value, and Tallon is the guy on the other side of the bargaining table, I might be more inclined to see who else wants to talk trade for Kessel.

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  • CMpuck

    Huberdeau? Gudbranson? No thanks.

    Two 1sts and a 2nd? Hmmm…. Kessel is a lot more productive than when Burke traded for him. I’d expect at least the same return.

  • Bertly83

    For me, the big question is can Nonis be trusted with the in-season dismantling of the Leafs. He is the best connected person (with other NHL teams) in the Leafs front office. The scenario must be close supervision and final approval of any moves resting with Shanahan.

    After the season when the rebuild is seriously under way, Nonis must be replaced. My top candidate is Norm Maciver, assistant GM of the Blackhawks. Prior to Maciver, the Hawks’ AGMs were Kevin Cheveldayoff (now GM in WPG) and Marc Bergevin (now GM in MTL). Chicago has been a good training ground for front office talent. The Leafs could use that. I need to look at Detroit’s front office to see who is there but Maciver would e a good move.

  • acg5151

    What should the Leafs get for Kessel?

    Well, a significantly less polished version got the Bruins a 2nd overall, a 9th overall, and a second rounder. Phil Kessel is a superior player now, so he should fetch at least that much if not more.

    Do the Panthers have those assets to give up? Possibly. I would say that a starting point is their first rounder for the next two years, a second rounder, and a couple of solid prospects like Rocco Grimaldi. I would say that Kessel is the third best goal scorer in the NHL of the last few years, behind Ovechkin and Stamkos. I don’t think anyone else is up there with Kessel, and it could easily be argued that Kessel is up there with those two guys. So it’s going to take a king’s ransom to get him out of Toronto.

  • acg5151

    Anyone who expects that Kessel would now reap the same haul that the Leafs paid to get him in 2009 is just wrong. For one, Kessel is six years older now. He will be 28 in October. The NHL is a young league now. Thirty year olds are on a rapid downslope these days.

    The other thing is that the NHL is different now and draft choices are much more highly valued than they were in 2009. In 2009, teams (but not the Leafs) were adjusting to the salary cap world that emerged in 2005 after the lost season. The cap was made even tighter after the lockout 2012-13 lockout. These days, you have to draft well. It is the only way to get the top talent that you need to win in the NHL. And then you lock them up early. Like Chicago did with Toews and Kane. Like Tampa will do with Stamkos sometime soon after July 1. Players like that will never become UFAs.

    70% of the players in the NHL were drafted in the first or second round. You have to draft well. The Leafs have not. Part of the problem is they have given away their draft choices too cheap. The other is that they have been lousy at bringing in and developing talent. What the rest of the NHL should fear is the Leafs finally getting their act together in this regard. There is no cap on how much you can spend on coaching, scouting and player development. This is a huge advantage for rich teams – if they know how to use it. Detroit and Chicago are great in this area.

    A good sign will be if the Marlies are an eight seed in the AHL or miss the AHL playoffs. It is easy to win in the AHL if you have a lot of older, experienced players. But that is not the purpose of the AHL. It is to develop players for the NHL. Stan Bowman in Chicago has openly said that about Rockford, the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate.

    Detroit’s prospects are ranked 4th among NHL teams. Chicago’s are 7th. Toronto is 19th. So teams that are always in the playoffs and win Stanley Cups manage to maintain a pool of NHL ready prospects and the Leafs, who do not make the playoffs and get high draft choices, cannot.

    I think Shanahan knows how to win in this version of the NHL. While heading the OPS, he watched more hockey than you can imagine. He knows that the Western Conference is far superior to the East – a superiority driven by Detroit when it was in the West. And a path being followed by NYI and Tampa – the future powers in the East. He talked to so many people in and around the NHL. And he is a smart guy. It may (probably will) take five years. Leaf fans have been patient in the past – for no apparent reason. I think there is a reason to now – and true hope.

  • MatsSundin#13

    Kessel is a perennial scoring talent. A top 10 scorer on a poor team. I would’nt trade him unless I got a haul. And that means a first, 2 seconds, and a top prospect minimum.

  • MatsSundin#13

    Unless you get a haul for him, then there is no point in moving him. The Rick Nash trade is probably the comp here, so 2 roster players, a good prospect, and a 1st round pick. I am not dealing Phil to Florida without Barkov included at a minimum. Phil can actually produce at a PPG pace in the NHL, the rest of the guys are unproven at the NHL level. Huberdeau has been a bit of a disappointment since the lockout shortened year. Barkov has yet to really make strides and prove that he can put up points at the NHL level. So you trade Phil for what? Hopes and prayers that these guys eventually realize their potential? It is a complete crap shoot, and if you keep Phil, at lease you have a superstar on the ice that will take the other teams focus away from younger guys trying to establish themselves at the NHL level, and would take some pressure off them to be the “man” from day 1.