With the NHL Draft set to go today, trade talk has been heating up. One team that continues to be at the focus of the conversation is the Toronto Maple Leafs. And one player that’s the focus of the trade talk is Phil Kessel.
This isn’t surprising. Toronto has been getting phone calls about Kessel for some time now and there could be some serious movement on that front sooner rather than later. Among the teams said to be in the mix are the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“He’s probably garnered the most interest, he’s probably the player that’s gotten the most phone calls,” said Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan. “There’s a lot of interest from other teams in him and it’s well deserved. The way he’s produced over his career, over the last several years. He had a down year last year and he knows it. We think he’ll bounce back, other teams think he’ll bounce back, or we wouldn’t be getting phone calls.”
Shanahan went on to say that there had been “serious talks” with other teams about Kessel, laughing off a question about the “crazy” asking price that has been circling through the media and rumour mills.
What’s more, Shanahan says there’s been interest in several Maple Leafs and at this point any deal could be in the works. It’s a familiar adage, sure, but it also speaks to just how attached Toronto is to the current crop. Nobody’s off limits. Deals will be listened to. And so on.
“There’s been strong interest in not just Phil, but several of our players,” said Shanahan. “I think that, as I said at the end of the year, for whatever reason the mix hasn’t necessarily worked out well here. But we do have some strong individuals and talented players. I won’t say one way or the other who’s going to be around and who won’t.”
Toronto will have the fourth overall pick at the NHL Entry Draft. They also have the 24th. Shanahan says he’s open to moving around some picks, too, although it’s expected that the fourth pick is going stay where it is. Maybe.
Right now, this all about options for the Maple Leafs. They have bargaining chips and they have interest. Teams are interested in their resources and they’re going to exploit that. How that will look is another matter altogether.