Photo Credit Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA TODAY Sports
We have a match! A team that is on Kessel’s trade list is apparently interested in the scoring winger, according to Damien Cox. That team? The Pittsburgh Penguins, who have been looking for talent that can actually play with Crosby or Malkin.
Now, based on Pittsburgh’s cap situation, it’s hard to see how they could fit Kessel in to their pay structure. According to NHLNumbers
, Pittsburgh has $12 million in cap space, but only have 8 forwards and 5 defensemen signed. There are some holes to fill – especially when Pittsburgh’s issue has been depth and not top-end talent. Adding Kessel’s $8 million price tag next to Crosby, Malkin, Letang, and Fleury just makes that roster even more top heavy.
That said, the Leafs are willing to take on salary in a deal, and that would be the only way a move like this could get done.
The other issue for the Leafs? Pittsburgh isn’t exactly ripe with young players to poach. Sure, they have young D that everyone – including the Leafs – would want, but what do they have beyond that?
Perhaps a return of top prospect Kasperi Kapanen (who mysteriously fell in last year’s draft) and one of Derrick Pouliot or Olli Maatta, plus taking on the salary of Rob Scuderi and a forward (Kunitz or Dupuis perhaps?), could make this palatable for both sides. Getting Pouliot or Maatta would get the Leafs another LHD that would also allow them to move Jake Gardiner if they so choose. That said, Toronto’s demands are apparently ridiculous
. So maybe Pittsburgh has to add a 2016 1st, or their 2015 2nd rounder if Toronto likes what they can get at 46th overall.
In the end, it’s hard to imagine how a Kessel deal with Pittsburgh would work, as it seems like the Penguins would be one of the more difficult teams to navigate a deal with. But after Rutherford’s Despres for Lovejoy fiasco, maybe the Leafs can steal a bigger return than we think.
Plus, it would be nice to see Kessel get literally all the goals playing with Crosby or Malkin.
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