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The Toronto Maple Leafs appear to be the NHL’s preeminent seller. They’ve already made a trade with the Nashville Predators – which basically put everyone on notice.
So who’s next?
Why not Phil Kessel? His era has been filled with too much drama in spite of his incredibly consistent scoring – five straight full seasons of 30 or more goals. No matter what he does he’s always a lightning rod for criticism.
But there is one problem with dealing him. He reportedly has to submit a list of eight teams of where he can be traded.
This basically means if Toronto deals him, Kessel will likely end up with a contender and a place where he can blend in and not have to be ‘the guy’ on offense like he was in Toronto, which helped lead to some of the drama.
But now begins the joy of predicting where he will wind up. We saw this tweet Monday from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Harvey Fialkov.
I just imagined Kessel flying a kite on the beach. It was glorious.
Below we give our top eight Phil Kessel trade spots and why we think they’d be good locations for him on and off the ice.
1. Los Angeles Kings
On-ice reason: The Kings would have to give up quite a ransom to get Kessel … zing! But general manager Dean Lombardi has a history of taking damaged parts from other teams and making them fit onto his roster. Jeff Carter and Marian Gaborik come to mind.
Off-ice reason: Wouldn’t you want to see Kessel living the SoCal lifestyle and go vegan or something?
2. Florida Panthers
On-ice reason: The Panthers are just four points behind the Bruins for the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot. Add Kessel to the group to cement its scoring and give it a more veteran presence. Only issue is that Kessel would again have to be ‘the guy’ for Florida. But the media crush isn’t quite the same.
Off-ice reason: Kessel playing tennis at a beach club.
3. Nashville Predators
On-ice reason: If there’s no center available – which Nashville desperately needs – then why not add another scoring winger? With Kessel, the Predators could have arguably the tops in the league between him, James Neal and Filip Forsberg.
Off-ice reason: Kessel goes to a honky tonk in a cowboy hat and boots.
4. Pittsburgh Penguins
On-ice reason: All good hockey players want to be traded to Pittsburgh around the deadline. A deal for Kessel adds another weapon for the Penguins. They already got rid of a problem in Neal, but surely Sidney Crosby could keep Kessel in line.
Off-ice reason: Kessel goes to Primanti Brothers.
5. Boston Bruins
On-ice reason: The Bruins rank 21st in the NHL with 2.59 goals per-game. If you pencil in Kessel immediately, it doesn’t exactly solve Boston’s problems, but it certainly helps give the Bruins a goal-scoring weapon they desperately need.
Off-ice reason: Too many to count.
6. Montreal Canadiens
On-ice reason: The Canadiens actually have a worse offense than Boston, scoring 2.57 goals per-game. Most of the top Eastern Conference teams have at least one player with elite goal scoring talent. Montreal does it with a group effort, but nobody who can just change the game with one play like say Steven Stamkos or Rick Nash.
Off-ice reason: To see the French speaking media get into fights with Kessel.
7. Calgary Flames
On-ice reason: Kessel is a top offensive player and the Flames lack that truly dynamic veteran offensive scorer. That would be a fast bunch with Kessel.
Off-ice reason: Kessel as the grand marshal of the Calgary Stampede parade after the Flames win the Stanley Cup.
8. New York Islanders
On-ice reason: With Kyle Okposo out, New York needs a first line winger. This is the best Islanders team since the Mike Bossy years. He’d be a great addition to compete with the Rangers’ speed should the Islanders face their in-state rival in the postseason.
Off-ice reason: So when the Islanders make the Stanley Cup Final, Kessel can go on Mike Francesa’s talk show.
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