Would Maple Leafs retain salary to trade Phil Kessel?

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Would Maple Leafs retain salary to trade Phil Kessel?
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According to Andy Strickland, the Toronto Maple Leafs have told at least one team that they will retain up to $2 million of Phil Kessel’s salary annually in order to trade him this summer.

Kessel has an $8 million cap hit through 2022, which makes finding a dance partner for a trade a bit of a challenge. You look at a team like the Pittsburgh Penguins, for example, and they have $11.57 million in cap space but only have 14 players under contract. Two million in cap savings could mean two players added to that roster.

While we’re not refuting Strickland’s report, we’d say there’s a much better chance the Maple Leafs take on someone else’s bloated contract back in a trade to make the money work, rather than have that money on their cap until 2022.

Again, on the Penguins, since they seem like they’re in the hunt: Chris Kunitz ($3.85 million through 2017)?

The wind still seems to be blowing Phil Kessel out of Toronto – a strong wind, indeed – but the Leafs braintrust isn’t going to have dead cap space for the next seven years just to make it happen. Unless there is the bluest of blue chip prospects coming back the other way, perhaps.