Will the Toronto Maple Leafs trade Phil Kessel? If they decide to keep the star for the 2015-16 season, it certainly won’t be due to a lack of interest from other teams. A report from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman indicates that several teams have already called the Maple Leafs inquiring about the asking price for Kessel.
It’s not clear what that asking price is or which teams called the Maple Leafs, but it’s safe to assume a lot of teams would be interested. Kessel’s asking price will rightfully be huge and he’s an extremely expensive option to add (his contract runs through 2021-22 with an average cap hit of $8 million a year), but that steep cost will bring any team a huge offensive boost.
Over Kessel’s last six full seasons (the year shortened by the lockout was tossed out), the forward has scored an average of 32 goals a year. The 2014-15 season was actually a “down” year for Kessel, but he still totaled 25 goals and 61 points. Most teams would be thrilled to have that kind of production on the roster, but Kessel’s numbers slipped after a 37-goal 2013-14 and now the trade rumors are swirling.
The Maple Leafs are at a crossroads. It remains to be seen how extensive their rebuild will be, but it’s clear the team wants to get younger and wants to restock their talent pool. Trading away the team’s best offensive weapon may seem pretty foolish, but a Kessel deal would bring in several valuable assets and give the Maple Leafs more cap flexibility.