Phil Kessel: The Mock Trades Roundtable

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Jan 31, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Phil Kessel (81) against the Philadelphia Flyers during the second period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Robb Ellis

Let me preface this by saying that I hate trade speculation created for the purpose of discussion. I can only take so many “we’ll throw in Tyler Biggs to sweeten the pot” type posts! Anyways, with that being said, here are my thoughts.

As I have written in several of my articles here at EIL, I believe that the Leafs are trying to “load up” on picks in this year’s NHL Entry Draft. At worst, I think they’d like to have two picks in the top 10 allowing them to choose a forward and a defenseman.

The trade partners are there. Florida is interested and hold the 11th overall pick. Philly holds the #7 pick and always seem to have their nose in there when a big name goes on the market. Another recent rumor had the Devils, who hold the 6th pick, inquiring about Kessel.

Two picks in the Top 10 of the deepest draft in years? What could be better than that? How about two picks in the TOP 5? It could happen if the Leafs can complete a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes.

To Carolina- F- Phil Kessel

To Toronto- F- Jeff Skinner, 5th overall pick (2015), F- Brock McGinn

You’re probably surprised to see Alexander Semin’s name missing from this trade. The Leafs should not be interested in taking back 31-year old players with three years of $7 mil from anybody in exchange for one of the truly elite scorers in this league. Instead, we see Jeff Skinner as the salary dump needed to make this work for the Canes.

At 23, Skinner is still young and if he is able to regain his 30-goal form then this he will be a great fit in the Leafs rebuild. He is not cheap at $6 mil per season and is signed through 2019. My only concern is that he suffered a concussion at the beginning of last season which can cause long term issues. (See Eric Lindros, Brett Lindros, Marc Savard)

Of course, the key to this deal is the #5 pick and it would allow the Leafs to get a forward (Strome or Marner) AND a defenseman (Hanifin or Provorov) in Friday’s draft. Or, how about Hanifin AND Provorov joining Morgan Rielly on the Leafs blueline for the next ten years?

I would also try to pry 21-year old forward Brock McGinn out of the Canes due to Skinner’s recent concussion as noted above but that is not a deal breaker by any means. I would be more than happy to do the deal without McGinn involved.

Would the Canes bite? I don’t know but if there is interest in Kessel on the part of Carolina, then I would be on the phone with Ron Francis right now.  There hasn’t been post-season action in Raleigh since 2009. Bringing in a top player like Kessel might be just what the Hurricanes need to regenerate some interest in the fledgling franchise. If Francis still won’t bite, we can always “throw in Tyler Biggs to sweeten the pot” right?

Next: Tim Chiasson