Toronto Maple Leafs: Potential Blockbuster Trade Involving Phil Kessel


Toronto Maple Leafs: Potential Blockbuster Trade Involving Phil Kessel

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Apparently a major trade is brewing, which could have a significant impact on the future of the Toronto Maple Leafs. In case “significant impact” sounds like hyperbole, consider that the two Leafs players being mentioned are Phil Kessel and Nazem Kadri.

As per a report from, the Leafs are in talks with the Carolina Hurricanes. In return for Kessel, Kadri and a third round pick, Toronto would receive Alexander Semin and the Hurricanes fifth selection for the upcoming draft.

Now, I’m the first to admit I’m often skeptical of rumors such as this, but it certainly makes for intriguing reading. If true, the Leafs would have the fourth and fifth picks for what is arguably one of the strongest drafts in recent memory.

This also leads to questions of what Brendan Shanahan‘s thinking is here. If this deal goes through, maybe there is more to come ahead of the 2015 NHL draft, which will take place in Sunrise, Florida on June 26-27.

It has been strongly suggested Shanahan and the Leafs would love to draft Dylan Strome, but are concerned that he will not be available when they pick fourth. It’s entirely possible Toronto could offer the fourth and fifth picks to the Arizona Coyotes, in exchange for their third pick?

Apr 13, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan talks to the press during a press conference at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Of course, that is just pure speculation on my part. In any event, the initial trade rumor in itself can be considered a risky proposition.

Now don’t get me wrong, trying to get rid of Kadri makes sense. The London, Ontario native has still to live up to his huge potential and may never actually reach those heights.

On top of this, the Leafs have had several issues with the former seventh overall draft pick’s attitude and commitment. As Shanahan said when he suspended Kadri this past season, there was more to it than just missed meetings.

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On the other hand, trading Kessel doesn’t sit quite as well with me. I know he wasn’t too popular with fans at times last season, but it’s still conceivable he could have a future in Toronto.

Yes, I understand he doesn’t exactly look like the perfect hockey specimen, but the guy can flat-out play. Give Kessel the right coach, system and supporting cast, and you will truly see what he is capable of.

The other factor to consider, is Semin. While the winger has both talent and substantial experience, he is not quite the force he was in Washington. (Semin totaled 420 points in 468 games, including playoffs, during six seasons with the Capitals.)

Finally, there are the salary cap implications – the Russian having three years left on his contract, with a cap hit of $7 million per season. However, this is peanuts compared to getting Kessel’s remaining seven years and $54 million off your books. (Kadri is a restricted free agent.)

Overall  – assuming it’s even remotely true – I wouldn’t be surprised to see Shanahan make the deal, as he continues to revamp the organisation. He would likely see trading a problematic character and ridding the team of a long-term contract, as two vital steps in the rebuilding of a once proud franchise.

Next: Dion Phaneuf expects to return to Toronto next season