FLYERS VIEWED IN LEAGUE CIRCLES AS POTENTIAL SLEEPER
Phil Kessel was an untouchable with Brian Burke at the helm but that’s no longer the case under GM Dave Nonis. Darren Dreger reported yesterday on TSN that NHL clubs are expressing interest in Leafs winger Phil Kessel and that Nonis is listening, but no deal is in the works.
Despite Kessel’s slow start, there are doubts in league circles that the Leafs will move him this season.
The Penguins in the market for a top-6 winger have had scouts in Toronto twice this year as top professional scout Don Waddell has been a frequent visitor to the Air Canada Center.
That has sparked speculation this week that the Penguins are going after Nikolai Kulemin but sources are refuting at this point that anything serious is going on between the Penguins and Leafs.
There was a report from the Thefourthperiod.com this week that indicates the Penguins offered a first round pick for Kulemin last season, but I’m getting denials that was the case.
The market for Kessel is expected to be strong and if the Leafs do move him, they are said to want a top-6 young forward, first round draft pick and likely another asset in return.
An ideal team that continues to get mentioned is the Philadelphia Flyers who have young offensive upside players they can dangle for Kessel and it’s been no secret that GM Paul Holmgren is eyeing a young long-term winger for Claude Giroux.
When asked about Kessel prior to the season, an NHL source loved the potential fit of Kessel in Pittsburgh as a complementary player but don’t get your hopes up on him becoming a Penguin.
Kessel has no goals and 6 assists on the season. Kessel is signed through the 2013-2014 season with a cap hit of $5.4 million.