It’s July 1 and we’re going to hear a lot of wacky rumours today, but TSN (and ESPN) analyst Pierre Lebrun kicked the day off with a big one: the Calgary Flames have reportedly had talks with Toronto about Phil Kessel.
Hearing that Leafs circled back to Calgary today on Kessel trade talk but don’t see a fit right now….
— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) July 1, 2015
Not to be overly negative, but I don’t see it. Outside of being a right-handed shot, Kessel doesn’t seem like a bit. He’s an elite goal-scorer and brings offense, but his contract is awful and stops Calgary from being able to do things that they want to do financially, particularly with Giordano, Monahan and Gaudreau needing to re-up soon.
He’s 27, which fits Calgary’s age group. He’s a consistent 20-30 goal scorer, on a bad Toronto team. But he’s got an $8 million cap hit that doesn’t run out until after the 2021-22 season. That length is a bit terrifying, to be blunt. That means a 33-year-old Kessel costs $8 million of cap space. If the contract was a wee bit shorter, maybe the Flames take a swing. And honestly, if the cap hit is a wee bit smaller, I’d say they definitely take a swing at it.
The other question is whether Kessel would be a fit on Bob Hartley’s systems-centric club. My guess is that after years in Toronto with the team running in place, he might actually enjoy a change of pace.
Between having to give up significant assets to acquire him and needing to fit him under the cap until 2022, I don’t see this happening. But it’s July 1, so never say never.