It’s almost a certainty that the Toronto Maple leafs are going to trade Phil Kessel this offseason.
Kessel is a controversial figure because many NHL observers question his conditioning and commitment.
But, what they don’t see, is a player who, despite a season of total dysfunction in Toronto, is one of the best pure goal scorers in the league.
I’ve always thought that Kessel and Taylor Hall were pretty much synonymous so let take a look at at their respective stats since Hall entered the league.
Hall – 20G 22A 42P
Kessel – 32G 32 64P
Hall – 27G 26A 43
Kessel – 37G 45A 82P
12/13 (lockout season)
Hall – 16G 34A 50P
Kessel – 20G 32A 52P
Hall – 23G 52A 80P
Kessel – 37G 43A 80P
Hall – 14G 24A 38P
Kessel – 25G 36A 61P
There is not much doubt that Kessel is a better hockey player than Hall.
The last 5 seasons don’t lie.
What should the Leafs expect to get back in a trade for Kessel?
We have to remember than Kessel is under contract for the next 7 seasons at a cap hit of $8M. (details here)
But that’s not the whole story.
Kessel’s contract is structured in an odd way with, for example, $10M in salary due next season PLUS a $4M signing bonus.
That kind of dough likely makes Kessel an unattractive proposition to any team operating on an internal budget. And when you consider how many teams are already cap strapped next season, the number of possible destinations for Kessel is actually quite small unless Toronto is willing to take a big contract in return.