Easier for Maple Leafs to trade Kessel now, or do they look for a No. 1 center for him?

  • Damien Cox of the Toronto Star: The only untouchable for the Maple Leafs should be their 2013 1st round pick. Phil Kessel is off to slow start, it’s becoming more difficult to imagine Kessel remaining with the Leafs beyond this season. It will be easier for Nonis to trade Kessel, than it would have been for Burke. There are some who would call for a Dion Phaneuf trade as well, but at least in that deal, they basically stole him from Calgary. The 25 year old Kessel will be an unrestricted free agent after next season. There should be a market for him and his $5.4 million salary cap hit ($5.1 million salary) at the trade deadline. They could look for something like the Blue Jackets got for Jeff Carter, Jack Johnson and a 1st round pick. He would be an excellent secondary scoring threat for someone.
  • Damien Cox via twitter: “Re Kessel: ppl don’t get it. Not about him, or how he’s playing. He does what he does well. Its about managing assets and team-building. Understand Kessel’s contract, and you understand why they have little choice but to move him.”
  • Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun: Buffery thinks the Leafs No. 1 priority should be a center.

    “The bottom line is this: Without a front-line centre, Kessel’s talents are being wasted. He was a 37-goal scorer last year but with a bonafide first-line centre, he might be a 50-goal scorer. Further to that, the Leafs will not take the next step in becoming a threat to go deep into the playoffs until they address the first-line centre situation.”

    Buffery notes that if they are going to give up young assets (hopefully not Nazem Kadri or Jake Gardiner), it’s for a center and not a goaltender. They have young depth on the blueline with prospects  Gardiner, Morgan Rielly, Stuart Percy, Jesse Blacker and Matt Finn. Tyler Bozak is not a number 1 center on a good team. Mikhail Grabovski is a good 2nd line center. Buffery also suggest moving Kadri to the first line and dropping Bozak back the third line.

  • Greg Brady via twitter: Phil Kessel has a limited NTC/NMC in 2013-14. He doesn’t have one this season. This year would have been Kessel’s last RFA season. The Maple Leafs bought one each year of service. You can not give a NTC during a RFA year.


  1. hotwings

    01/29/2013 at 11:14 am

    the wild card in all this trade kessel talk is the free agency period and a trade. w/ only getzlaf as a real #1 centre available (riberio too old)… a trade might be the only way to get a #1 centre… and that is probably unlikely as well.. stephen weiss might be avilable.. but can you build around him? maybe we can trade for paul stastny…

    long story short, there might not be a #1 centre available for 2 years… the 2014 crop of free agent centres is pretty sick…

  2. Poutine thighs

    01/29/2013 at 11:24 am

    The leafs are more that a # 1 centre away. Is a centre going to keep Jessel from being hit and then shying away from the game? So the swollen faced floater has scored because there is NO ONE else that can even carry the puck on this team, let alone shoot. Team defence and goaltending are aweful. Blaming mighty 81 and his lack of a centre is an excuse.

  3. Wunschkind89

    01/29/2013 at 12:14 pm

    The truth is the Leafs need to dismantle the team and build through trades and drafting. Look at every team that has won the cup since the lockout and you can pick out their best two players and where they got them from:

    2006, Carolina: Staal and Ward
    2007, Anaheim: Perry and Getzlaf (Giguere more so at the time).
    2008, Detroit: Henrik and Datsyuk
    2009, Pittsburgh: Crosby and Malkin
    2010, Chicago: Kane and Toews (Keith, Seabrook et al).
    2011, Boston: Lucic and Krecji
    2012, LA: Koptitar and Quick (Doughty, Brown et al).

    All these teams had their core set from drafting, and made trades to compliment it (Kings trading Jack Johnson and Simmons for Carter as an example). Not trading the picks required to make a core for a complimenting piece such as Kessel.

    Not only do you get a great pool of young talent this way, but it’s much cheaper talent also, which gives you plenty of cap space to make the trades required to sustain your success.

  4. Patrick

    01/29/2013 at 2:40 pm

    I’d be all over taking Kessel for Stastny.

  5. Brent

    01/29/2013 at 9:00 pm

    Stupid, stupid, stupid… There is absolutely no positive side to trading a skilled and proven lead scorer, unless he doesn’t want to play for the team… This talk about trading Kessel reminds me of why my hockey town is the joke of the NHL. A guy doesn’t score for a few games, and he’s hung on a cross? This guy was the sixth leading scorer WITHOUT a legitimate centreman. Has everyone forgotten that TO draft picks are bust unless they are traded away? Keep Kessel, pay him a mint, and be thankful that we have someone useful on this team… Trade anyone else, keep this man. I cannot believe I am reading this premature crappage.

  6. Phil

    01/29/2013 at 9:04 pm

    Brent, you jokers with 1 nut have to stick up for each other

  7. Brent

    01/29/2013 at 10:23 pm

    uh… what?

  8. Michael

    01/29/2013 at 11:47 pm

    @Brent I think what Phil meant is that he was making fun of the fact that Kessel had testicular cancer and had to have one of his testicles removed and is insulting you by comparing you to Kessel.

    …because having to have your body parts removed from cancer is absolutely hilarious… real classy

  9. DAN

    01/30/2013 at 10:41 pm

    The Leafs cannot keep on getting rid of players just because the media or talk show host brings it up, you get better by keeping good players and build around them, if they trade kessel he will go to another team and he will score 30 goals a year or more his play is getting stronger and this sniper is quick, leave kessel alone , with JVR and added strength the maple leafs will compete and thats all you want, playoff teams do not get better by reducing good talent , thats whats wrong with this town we get rid of everyone , start looking in the mirror before you replace every one, we cry about burke because he tells it like it is , now he is gone and his people are still in place, his legacy lives on, get real people.

  10. English Bob

    02/07/2013 at 11:33 am

    If you are going to get rid of anybody, get rid of Phaneuf – (great job breaking Lupul’s arm you hockey puck!). Too premature to get rid of Kessel (even though I think he’s a bit of a wimp). My seven year old loves Kessel so I have no choice but to root for him to get his groove back. IMHO Leafs are actually playing OK, not great, but with some luck enough to get to the playoffs. Chicago’s gonna take it this year anyway. Everyone should just chill.

  11. Alix

    02/20/2013 at 2:20 am

    Brent makes the most sense here. No way should we trade kessel. We need a centre like ryan oreilly, Kadri is proving to be a top 6players. Imagine oreilly, Kadri, bozak? Grabovski should be gone

  12. Phil

    02/20/2013 at 7:59 am

    Is it just me or is Oreilly overrated?
    Is his career high 13 goals?
    He is unproven and a risk. If he was that good the avalanche would have paid him or some team would already have traded for him.

  13. brad

    03/10/2013 at 3:08 pm

    Toronto is actually playing pretty decent trading Kessel would be the worst possible move for Toronto every.. remember what we gave away for him do you really think that we can get that kind of return in players.. it would be stupid. Besides look who his center is seriously, ya Bozak is good at faceoffs.. but that’s about it. His passing and playmaking is poor, if we really give Kessel and Van/lups a good #1 center Kessel will be easy 50 goal scorer. Guys he got 82 points last year with Bozak… lets get real here if he can put up numbers like that with Bozak imagine if we had a guy like Nash or Richards or Carter or Getzlaf somebody with some good playmaking skill Kessel would explode with points. Trading Kessel is not the answer Give him what he needs and Toronto will greatly improve. Its common sense people. Besides Toronto has more first round picks in their system then any other team in the NHL so if you have to trade some more 1st round picks to get a good center do it and let the others grow more. In few more years Toronto will be a dominating team.