The Toronto Maple Leafs really don’t want Phil Kessel anymore. So much, in fact, that they could give their fourth overall pick to anyone who takes him off their hands.
Via the Sporting News:
"“It’s something we would definitely look at,” Leafs interim co-GM Kyle Dubas told The Toronto Starin regard to trading the first-round pick. “If someone else was adamant about a player, we’re pretty comfortable with the players in that cluster.“We need to be acquiring as many draft pick assets as we can, as many prospects as we can. If there was something that made sense, we’d be open to listening and having some thorough discussions on the fourth pick.”"
Kessel is making $8 million per year and has picked up the reputation of being a coach killer. He’s high maintenance, and a team would have to tolerate his lack of will to play any defense what so ever.
The Leafs are also in the market to move their captain and defenseman Dion Phaneuf, and one could assume they’d also be willing to throw in their first round pick to whoever would take him.
The draft pick being included gives Toronto a chance to actually get a return for Kessel or Phaneuf, instead of just a straight cash dump. Rick Nash, TJ Oshie, Evgeni Malkin, and Patrick Sharp are all rumored to be on he trading block. However, most of the teams with those players could not afford to take on the salary of a player like Kessel.
Just about the only thing that would be a Kessel deal attractive to another team would be that fourth overall pick, which could land either Dylan Strome or Noah Hanifin.
“Everyone is feeling us out,” said interim general manager Mark Hunter to the Toronto Star. “They’re talking to Brendan Shanahan too. There’s lots of talk going on. Nothing concrete.”
“What we’re going to be is men,” Babcock said of his team on Thursday via the Sporting News “We’re going to be straight up and honest. We’re going to take responsibility in how hard we play. It doesn’t mean it will guarantee you success every night. But we’ll be responsible. You don’t win without good people. We’re going to have good people.”
Its almost impossible to see Kessel and Babcock working out together, which is why the leafs are desperate enough to dump him that they’d give up their top pick. Make no mistake, however, a solid return will be needed.
More from NHL Draft