NHL Trade Rumors: What Is Phil Kessel Worth On The Open Market?

December 1st, 2010 2 Comments

Season after season Toronto Maple Leaf fans patiently await for the day that their beloved Buds will finally make the leap from obscurity to contender. A little over a quarter of the way through the season it appears as if the Leaf Nation will once again have to deal with disappointment.

Despite what some fans are calling a more spirited effort, the Maple Leafs currently sit 27th overall in the standings, a mere five points from the bottom and just two points up on the New Jersey Devils (18) and Edmonton Oilers.

The acquisitions of Phil Kessel, Colby Armstrong, Dion Phaneuf, Fredrik Sjostrom, J.S. Giguere, Kris Versteeg and others have, thus far, failed to bring a better result than last years crew that finished the season 29th overall.

The special teams are a mess, the coaching has been questionable and, while the defense and goaltending look to be marginally improved, the offense is still uglier than Burkie in a mankini!

Needless to say these are not the kind of results that Leaf fans were expecting this season which has caused more than a few armchair general managers to question the moves that Brian Burke has made.

While there is plenty of debate surrounding the likes of Phaneuf, Versteeg and Armstrong the one constant has been the questionable acquisition of Phil Kessel.

Burke, who was looking to make a huge splash in the trade market, paid a huge price for Kessel giving up two first round draft picks (2009-10 and 2010-11) and a second rounder in 2009-10.

On the surface it appeared as if both teams got what they wanted. The Boston Bruins rid themselves of a player who they felt did not want to be a member of the Black Yellow, cutting some salary in the process, while the Maple Leafs brought in a legitimate 30-goal scorer, who many felt Burke could build around.

Recently, with the team floundering and Burke unable to bring in a proper supporting forward cast, many Leaf fans have been entertaining the idea of trading Kessel.

As foolish as this sounds one has to agree that Kessel would likely fetch a healthy return, which may help the club in the future. The question is, what is Kessel really worth?

Well, for starters, I do not foresee any NHL general manager offering Burke two first rounders and a second, but that kinda goes without saying, doesn’t it?

That said, there would likely be a big market for a player that, while somewhat one-dimensional, has the ability to score 30 or more goals in each of the next ten seasons.

Most Maple Leaf fans would tell you that they are comfortable with the progress of the Goalies and defense, which means there may not be a need to add any of those types of players to the roster.

Where the Leafs need the most help is up front, with or without Kessel in the lineup.

With that in mind, would a package of young forwards be enough to entice Burke to abandon ship on his rush job in favor of trading Kessel with a long-term re-tooling in mind?

As it stands right now the Maple Leafs are the youngest team in the NHL, so it’s not as if Burke couldn’t change gears and go in an even younger direction, trading away Kessel (who is just 23 himself) and a couple of veterans in favor of promoting from within and/or taking back some younger players.

There is little sense in debating names, but Burke’s affection for Los Angeles Kings prospect Brayden Schenn is well documented.

The Kings own one of the best pools of young talent in recent memory and while I would agree they already own a roster that could make a deep run in the playoffs they sure would benefit from a little more offense in the form of Phil Kessel and maybe the likes of Tomas Kaberle (who has a no trade clause), wouldn’t they?

A package which included Schenn and another prospect or two could save the Leafs a lot of cap space, help change the culture of the team and bring in a dimension of depth up front, should those prospects work out (which is no guarantee).

Let’s face it, as much as Leaf fans want to debate a Phil Kessel trade there is absolutely nothing pointing to Burke entertaining it; he has a lot of admiration and respect for young Kessel and his reputation is tied to the success of his prized pony.

That said, it’s always fun to debate….what do you feel Phil Kessel is worth?


  1. Hank says:

    I would love to see Kessel in a Kings jersey. On paper a line of Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar and Phil Kessel would encompass everything that make-up a successful scoring line.

    However, I would have to agree with you that Burke would have to be shown a deal that he absolutely loves (one that includes Schenn) in order for him to trade Kessel, thus admitting that he was wrong in giving up (potentially) two top five picks.

    Also, I would have a hard time seeing Dean Lombardi trade for Kessel as he doesn’t seem to ‘fit’ into DL’s matra of getting guys are ‘the right fit’. Kessel has been known to be a one man show at times and I don’t think that sits well with DL.

    To me (as a Kings fan), I would be willing to give up Schenn and then some depending on what the Kings got back.

    If it was just Kessel coming back the Kings’ way, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was Schenn as well as picks (depending on quality) and a prospect or two going back to Toronto. Kessel is a 30 goal, 60 point getter, under the age of 25 with a 4 year contract that has a (modest) 5.4M cap hit.

    If Kessel rounded out his Lone Ranger act a little bit, I could see the Kings entertaining a trade (or at least I hope they would). However, Dean Lombardi doesn’t go anything without thinking about it for 6 months beforehand it seems like and Burke doesn’t want to give Leaf fans a chance to say ‘I told you so’.

  2. MarkRitter says:

    That would be a great first line indeed. The Kings bigger need is on the Left side, but would be dangerous anywhere, even on the second unit. Is this deal gonna happen—probably not, but it is fun to debate the merits and other possibilities.

    Thanks for the comment!

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