Friedman: “Serious offers… starting to come in” for Phil Kessel

When Elliotte Friedman talks Phil Kessel it’s always worth a listen, and that’s what happened Monday morning on Sportsnet 960 in Calgary (via Today’s Slapshot). Elliotte reiterated his points from his 30 Thoughts and Saturday Headline comments on Kessel that Justin Fisher has previously summarized on TLN that things are beginning to heat up on the Kessel trade front.

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“From what I understand teams are calling the Toronto Maple Leafs and asking ‘If we’re serious about doing this, what is the price going to be?”

The new insight from Elliotte Friedman is after the jump.

The No Movement Clause

Elliotte Friedman spent some time talking about the limit of Kessel’s no trade list and how he only has to provide a list of eight teams that he’ll accept a trade to.

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“The other thing I found out was it hasn’t gotten to Kessel yet. And there’s no way that this deal is getting made without Kessel being involved in it because he’s got a list of teams he can go to. I think it’s only eight teams.”

To me this reads as being very early in the process and the Leafs are still generally fielding initial offers for any interested teams because the second they put it to Kessel the list of deals they can consider gets much more select. It’s a nice way of assessing the general market value and puts some context in what they should refuse if those eight teams offer nowhere near what the non list teams do.

It’s also worth noting that the Leafs would have an eight team list from last July that Kessel is still somewhat bound to, and that list could change on July 1st. Potentially this gives the Leafs a window where they can move Kessel to teams that would no longer be on his list, albeit against his will or they could approach him for his July 1st list sooner and potentially have some new teams to work with. 

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While it’s by no means accurate, it’s likely that Kessel’s list is more than likely focused on teams that are in contention and aren’t equipped with a top ten pick no matter how much we want to believe a Kessel trade would land the Leafs another high draft pick. 


“This kind of trade doesn’t happens fast. I think it takes a week or a little bit of time for the two teams to talk to each other, go back and forth and figure it out in terms of what’s going to happen.”

This isn’t Friedman implying that the Kessel trade is a week away, but I think he’s getting at once the Leafs have found a trade partner who Kessel has endorsed, and there is at least some kind of return the Leafs are looking for returning, it’s going to be a lengthy process of back and forth. So, basically nothing is imminent, and this will likely be a pain for teams to put together. That makes sense when you consider that the Leafs are going to be looking for multiple futures in the deal, and will likely need to take some salary. 

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Speculation on Interest

Elliotte Friedman was very careful to not name teams that had inquired about Kessel, but very carefully implied one of the teams that he thinks will absolutely get involved.

“One of the teams I automatically assumed was going to be there was Nashville and I’m just not sure that there’s a match to be made there. It would seem on paper there is, but I’m not sure there is.”

This was one of the teams that Justin Fisher highlighted in his list of landing spots for Phil Kessel, and given that Poile was in on Kessel when he was traded from Boston, it seems like a reasonable assumption by both Justin and Elliotte. The move from Barry Trotz’ system to Peter Laviolette’s more offensively aggressive style also supports this speculation. 

The downside to any Predators trade is that we already know what became of their 2015 1st round pick and the absence of acquiring a 2015 1st in a Kessel deal is a little bittersweet. Of course, the 2016 first round is equally exciting, but we’re an impatient group. They do have some interesting prospects and good young roster players that make it worth forgetting about the draft pick as Justin noted in his article. 

With the Stanley Cup Finals ongoing, and 16 days until the draft we’ve got nothing but time to see what happens with Kessel. The nice thing is that keeping Kessel is also far from the worst thing this organization can do as his trade value isn’t going anywhere anytime soon and the pressure is entirely on the teams pursuing Phil if they want to get a deal done and to sell themselves to him as a worthwhile destination.

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  • Bertly83

    I think that the Leafs should look at the teams that had uncharacteristically bad seasons to trade their players. There are always teams like that every season. Those teams this year were Philadelphia and San Jose. Neither of these teams are bad teams but they just didn’t have things go their way this year. They will be better next year and I would bet that they will make playoffs. Another team that I feel will make playoffs next year is New Jersey. Their team has genuine potential but they are too old and they can’t score. Adding Kessel will add scoring and a small touch of youth to their team. I don’t think that they’re that far away from being able to make playoffs. Even a deal where JVR goes there could work out! Great thing is that these 3 teams have top 10 picks!

  • Take the 2016 1st rounder. I say stock as many 1st round picks as humanly possible.

    Plus with Kessel on the team, Nashville might lose alot of games and it could become a high pick, plus possibly be another ticket in the Austin Matthews lottery

  • silentbob

    “The nice thing is that keeping Kessel is also far from the worst thing this organization can do as his trade value isn’t going anywhere anytime soon …”

    This isn’t necessarily true.

    Kessel is coming off his worst season, production wise, since 07-08? Its easy, and maybe accurate to write if off as an off year and expect him to rebound next year with a 35 goal, 75+ point season. But that isn’t a given, and sometimes players do regress at Kessel’s age (Heatley, Gaborik, Staal, Semin etc…). Its not the most common thing but it does happen. Even if ….. his skill doesn’t regress (so to speak), if he doesn’t respond well to Babcock the results might be the same.

    If the Leafs are serious about rebuilding they need to move Kessel, and holding onto him to get a better return is a risk, they may end up with a diminished asset next year. When it comes to trade return, is 1 in the hand worth 2 in the bush?

  • silentbob

    I think GM’s know that Kessel played injured most of the year won’t be too concerned about a down year. He had a preseason back injury and recurring spasms throughout the first half of the season and took some nasty hits. Horachuk admitted he was playing through injuries-plural- all Spring. Funny that it was never reported but I guess it didn’t go well with the usual story line that Phil doesn’t care/isn’t trying. The fact is he plays through injuries and always has. The lack of effort from JVR and Bozak concerned me a lot more.

    Kessel is an elite player, likely the only one available through trade this off-season and the return has to be good. A smart organization waits for the best return available and that might be at the trade deadline. We saw during the Olympics what he can do on a good team, he’s a point a game player in the playoffs. What an amazing addition to a contending team he could be next season.