Phil Kessel: Anatomy Of A Leafs Trade

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Does Phil Kessel’s hockey career come full circle back to the Bruins?

Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Bruins’ Level Of Interest In Kessel: 3/5 Interested

Cap/Roster Situation:

The Bruins have roughly 7.2M in cap space… and are screwed. Why you ask? Because that 7.2M has to resign Dougie Hamilton – who some are speculating could be offer sheeted as high as 8M per on a long-term deal. Also have to replace the entire 4th line, re-ign trade deadline acquisition Brett Connolly, fund a backup goalie for Rask (hello Malcolm Subban) and resign or replace depth Dmen Adam McQuaid and Matt Bartkowski.

The Bruins also need to find a way to inject more offense into their froward ranks as they ran out of guns quickly and often during the season, contributing as a large reason they didn’t make the playoffs. They will receive some relief from putting Marc Savard and his roughly 4M on LTIR, but not enough to resign everyone and make improvements.

Assets the Leafs would want:

Dougie Hamilton, Joe Morrow, David Pastrnak, Reilly Smith, Brett Connolly, Malcolm Subban, 1st 2015

Proposed Bruins Trade:

Why it would work:

Besides the poetic justice of one of the original pieces of the Phil Kessel trade returning to the Leafs in a 2nd Phil Kessel trade, this deal actually makes some sense. The Bruins have been hurting for scoring punch on the RW pretty much since the moment they traded Kessel but were able to mask that weakness by having unbelievable depth.

The depth that they’ve since lost due to big money extensions to Bergeron, Marchand, Lucic and Krejci kicking in. There are lots of rumours of teams looking to screw the Bruins and their delicate cap situation up by offering Hamilton a serious offer sheet of more than 7M. The Bruins dump Kelly and his 3M cap hit, if they wanted the Leafs would also take Marc Savard and his destined for the LTIR 4M cap hit to sweeten the pot.

This gives the Bruins a truly scary top6 scoring punch on the right side with Kessel, Pastrnak and Smith and giving them the option to package Eriksson off for help elsewhere. Dougie Hamilton will eat up most of if not all the Bruins remaining cap space, so subtracting him and Chris Kelly gives the Bruins ample room to take on Kessel and get some of their vaunted depth back. The Leafs get the top pairing blue liner to partner in with Morgan Rielly at s well as the Bruins 14th OA pick, allowing them to grab another high-end prospect for their pipeline.

Why it wouldn’t work:

All these trade rumours of teams trading for the sake of cap space can be misleading in terms of what that equates to in value. Yes, the Bruins need offensive help, that much is very clear, but would they create a hole on their blue line to solve that problem? It all depends on if the Bruins think they can get the defensive holes filled through either free agency or through a Loui Eriksson/Milan Lucic trade.

Might have to add an inexpensive defender from the Leafs and take back Savard to truly make this deal work, someone like Stuart Percy. If the Bruins feel they can replace Hamilton, and they get the cap space to actually add some depth then maybe they bring Kessel home, maybe.

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