Phil Kessel: Anatomy Of A Leafs Trade

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Phil Kessel to the Nashville Predators just makes so much sense. Can he help get the Predators to the next level? Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Nashville Preadtors’ Level Of Interest In Kessel: 5/5 Desperate

Cap/Roster Situation:

With 12M to get to the salary floor, the Predators are not hurting for cap space, but they are a low internal budget team and have to add some other pieces still. Priorty No.1 is resigning Mike Ribeiro, the teams surprise No.1 center this season. Add Mike Fisher, Colin Wilson, Craig Smith and Calle Jarnkrok to the list of players needing new contracts. Even after resigning all or some of those players the Predators will still barely be above the salary floor, giving them lots of room to take on Phil Kessel and his 8M contract.

Assets the Leafs would want:

Defense, defense and more defense. Seriously though, Roman Josi, Seth Jones, Ryan Ellis, Mathias Ekholm, then throw in forward Kevin Fiala and goalie Juuse Saros.

Proposed Predators Trade:

Why it would work:

I know, I know, I know, it’ Seth Jones. Seth freaking Jones, and I just said Nashville would trade him to the Leafs. Here me out first before you get all riot-y on me. The Predators surprised almost everyone this past season when they roared out of the gates and fought with Chicago and St.Louis for the division title all season.

Despite the addition of James Neal, the rebirth of Mike Ribeiro and the emergence of Filip Forsberg, Nashville still lacked scoring punch and doesn’t have much in the way of secondary scoring in the event that Forsberg regresses, Ribeiro can’t repeat or Neal gets injured. Meanwhile the Leafs get a true No.1 Dman in the making, the kind of dominant right-handed, minute eating beast they’ve never had.

Seth Jones is a beast and is only going to get better, giving the Leafs an insane amount of prospect depth on the blue line. Juuse Saros is a typical Nashville gem of a goaltender, while not possessing of typical NHL goaltender height, he has uncanny technical and athletic abilities and a penchant for making the 2nd and 3rd save with regularity. Stalberg is a salary dump and unsuccessful experiment in Nashville but can return to a 2nd/3rd line defensive PK role and occasionally chip in offense using his speed.

Don’t need a 1st thrown in here because Jones is such a high end return. Predators can afford to move Seth Jones because they have Shea Weber, Roman Josi, Mathias Ekholm, Ryan Ellis and Victor Bartley and can afford to bring in a more veteran No.6 in free agency.

Why it wouldn’t work:

It’s Seth Jones. That is really the beginning and end of the debate. You might be able to sub Ekholm and Fiala in for Jones, but if I’m Toronto I look to other teams at that point. Stalberg might not be enough contract coming back for Kessel, if not they could always add Paul Gaustad and his 3.25M cap hit. To be completely honest I just need Seth Jones to make this work, I’d even go 1 for 1.

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