Toronto Maple Leafs: 10 Storylines Heading Into the Draft and Offseason

2 of 11

1. Will Phil Kessel Be Dealt?

Feb 21, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Phil Kessel (81) warms up before playing against the Winnipeg Jets at Air Canada Centre. The Maple Leafs beat the Jets 4-3 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

The million dollar question that many are asking themselves, but those same people are anticipating the same answer. Many are convinced that Kessel’s time in Toronto came to an end after he posted his lowest offensive total since his first season with the Leafs. He holds the highest trade value on the roster as the best forward, but what other teams value him at is another story. Is he worth two first round picks and a second round pick? Probably not, but looking at past deals it is not too much for the Leafs to expect a significant return for Kessel.

Maple Leafs Hotstove (MLHS) made a couple of comparable situations to what a Kessel trade could involve. The best one had to be Rick Nash, when the New York Rangers acquired him from the Columbus Blue Jackets back in 2012. The difference between that situation and Kessel, is the fact Nash wanted to leave Columbus because he had been there for nine years and the team was not going anywhere. So he decided that it was best for him and the team to part ways and get Columbus the assets they needed to move forward with their rebuild. Kessel has not asked for a trade and it was reported by TSN insider Bob MacKenzie that the following teams were on Kessel’s trade list: Boston; Chicago; Los Angeles; Minnesota; Montreal; New York Rangers; Philadelphia; and Pittsburgh.

Jan 29, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel (81) and Arizona Coyotes forward Shane Doan (19) battle for position during the first period at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

A deal with those teams would be very difficult if they want to take on Kessel’s eight million dollar salary cap hit and there is no chance the Leafs are taking any of that cap hit, unless the deal is too good to pass up. These teams are also all contenders, minus Philadelphia, who are in a similar situation as the Leafs, so they will probably avoid giving up a majority of their assets in order to get Kessel. So the only way I see a Kessel deal happening is if one of those team’s wants to give up a first round pick, a good young roster player and one of their top prospects or Kessel agrees to a trade with a team that is not on his list. This is why I think it would not be a surprise to see Kessel with the Leafs next season, mainly because the team is in no rush to trade their biggest asset and may hold off until they sort out other deals first.