NHL trade rumors 2013: Maple Leafs prepared to move Phil Kessel?

Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photo

Are the Toronto Maple Leafs gearing up to trade Phil Kessel at the trade deadline this season?

After giving up the farm for winger Phil Kessel back in 2009, are the Maple Leafs prepared to trade the prolific sniper? Kevin Dupont of the Boston Globe believes so:

"Rumors persist in Toronto the Maple Leafs might shop winger Phil Kessel before the trade deadline, as he's has convinced many up there that he's neither a leader nor core performer."

Drafted No. 5 overall in the 2006 draft by the Boston Bruins, Kessel made an instant impact as a rookie and scored 36 goals in just his third season in the NHL. Just prior to the start of the 2009 season, former Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke saw an opportunity to land a potential franchise scorer and traded a 2010 first round pick and 2011 first round pick -- as well as a second round pick in 2010 -- to the Bruins in exchange for Kessel.

It was seen as a vast overpayment at the time and now even more so, given the Bruins are building their franchise around Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton -- drafted using the Leafs' top ten picks.

Now the Leafs appeared ready to move on from Kessel, despite the winger putting up 103 goals in 256 games with Toronto and never scoring less than 30 goals in a season. In 2013, Kessel has four goals and 16 points in 22 games.

Perhaps trading Kessel would be the first step from really moving on from the Brian Burke era, with the winger symbolic of the failure of the general manager's tenure in Toronto.

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