NHL trade rumors: Phil Kessel talk doesn't make sense


Doug MacLean and Nick Kypreos want the Leafs to acquire "a guy who can, maybe, lead a little better". Whatever that means.

On Thursday night during the Penguins vs. Maple Leafs game, Sportsnet analysts Doug MacLean and Nick Kypreos discussed the possibility of the Leafs trading Phil Kessel, a 25-year-old forward with a year left on his contract after this season.

He's never scored fewer than 30 goals as a Toronto Maple Leaf. Why on earth would Toronto trade such a valuable asset, especially considering the whole not being a free agent after this season thing?

Well, according to MacLean and Kypreos -- who when not in agreement are the closest thing Canada has to Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith -- believe it has to do with "questions" of Kessel's ability to be a "core leader" in Toronto. Kypreos suggests the Leafs need "a guy who can, maybe, lead a little bit better." Oy vey.

Ignoring this whole idea of Kessel's "leadership abilities," let's go down the list of things Toronto would want in return for Kessel, according to these two, starting with Doug MacLean:

"The Leafs need core pieces that can improve their hockey team. I think it'll be a real challenging deal to get the pieces back for Phil Kessel that will make them a better team. I don't think that market's out there. I don't.

"I look at Cory Perry making sense if it's an off-season deal. If they could ever work out that it's Cory Perry coming here for Phil Kessel and something else. It's not a one-for-one deal, it's not close to a one-for-one deal. So what else would the Leafs be able to give to acquire a player, a Cory Perry. But other than that, I don't see the marketplace, I don't see the other teams being able to come up with the assets to get this player."

So the player you're talking about, Phil Kessel, is good enough that other teams don't have the assets to acquire him, yet you still feel he should be traded? Also, Corey Perry is two years older than Kessel, likely more expensive in terms of a cap hit, and -- save for his 50-goal season in 2010-11 that won him the Hart Trophy -- hasn't really out-performed Kessel that drastically. Perry has 100 more points than Kessel in his career, but that's in 71 more games. Kessel out-performed Perry last season (37-45-82 for Kessel, 37-23-60 for Perry) and is already doing so again this season (9-17-26 to 9-15-24). Oh, and here's Perry's "leadership" on display a couple of days ago in Minnesota.

Anyway, enough of MacLean, Nick Kypreos is on the clock!

There's one asset in Vancouver named Luongo, and maybe you could have some sort of fit there. They desperately need some help for the Sedins on pure secondary scoring. Also, the Detroit Red Wings have great leadership with Datsyuk and Zetterberg, maybe he can end up going to Detroit and being a pure scorer without the leadership label are still looking for in Toronto.

There's that "leadership" thing again. Who are these people (Seinfeld voice) in Toronto looking for Kessel's "leadership"? Is it fans? Is it the front office? Is it just people like Kypreos and MacLean? We may never know.

Also, why Roberto Luongo? Luongo is great, but this season, his save percentage (.913) isn't as good as Reimer (.916) or Scrivens (.919). So why would you even give up an asset like Kessel for someone who isn't going to improve on your current goaltending, considering both Scrivens and Reimer are much younger and, this just in, are a huge chunk of the reason for why the Leafs are playoff contenders?

Clearly, many are not amused by these rumors, including one member of Toronto's front office, apparently.

So there you have it. Phil Kessel might be traded because he's not a leader, say two gentlemen not involved with the organization, while a guy who is claims that they're a "F-ing joke." You be the judge!

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