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Trading Phil Kessel: A look at his eight team list

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You've seen the list, but would a trade with any of these teams be feasible?

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

As the draft draws closer, trade talks heat up. Rumours about trading Phil Kessel come around every year around this time. Every year, the rumours make a trade sound like it's imminent.

We've all seen Kessel's eight team trade list by now, but will this be the year a trade finally comes to pass? (Whether they should trade him is another question entirely).

That's unclear, but since we’ve all been having so much fun speculating about Phil Kessel’s potential landing spot, here are some things you need to know about the eight teams on his trade list. Three things before we start:

First, Kessel submitted this list prior to the trade deadline. It’s very possible that the teams he’s willing to go to have changed since then (he has to resubmit a list before July 1st).

Secondly, he can still potentially approve a trade that sends him elsewhere. Is that likely? Who knows, but it’s not like that will stop folks on the internet from speculating about it!

Thirdly, I don't look at Kessel's actual trade value but if you're interested, you can take a look at some comparable trades here. I look at top prospects and young, established NHLers as options coming back.

Actually, one other thing from Bob McKenzie: "I think the list was ostensibly put together probably to places that: A) He would be prepared to play if he had to, and B) places that are salary capped out... I think that the list - for the most part - was designed to make his modified no-trade as close to a full no-trade as possible." Could the Leafs swing a trade with any of these capped out teams? Well, we’re going to find out.

All cap figures are from General Fanager and NHL Guru, numbers assume a $71 million cap next season.

Montreal Canadiens

No. Next.

Philedalphia Flyers

Cap Situation

The Flyers have a bit of a logjam on the blue-line, with most of their defenders ranging from serviceable to mediocre. With the signing of Yvgeni Medvedev, expected resigning of Michael Del Zotto, and handful of promising young defenders in the pipeline, they might be looking to move out a player like Nick Grossman or Luke Schenn.

Both have one year left on their contracts, with $3.5M and $3.6M cap hits, respectively. Taking just one of these players out, however, is not going to be enough to get the Flyers under the cap.

Other candidates for a salary dump include Vincent Lecavalier ($4.5M for three more years) and R.J. Umberger ($4.6M for two). Hextall would probably be delighted to get Andy MacDonald’s contract off the cap, but the Leafs should stay far, far away from him.

The other possibility is Mark Streit, who is a good player but turns 38 at the end of the year. The Flyers also don’t have anyone to replace him.

Players to Target

Top prospect Travis Sanheim led WHL defensemen in scoring this season. Any conversation about the price for Kessel is going to have to start with him. Other promising prospects include forward Scott Laughton, who saw some time with the Flyers this season, as well as a trio of defencemen: Samuel Morin, Shayne Gostisbehere, and Robert Hagg.

Established top-six centre Sean Couturier is another option, but the likelihood that the Flyers move him is slim.

Are they a good fit?

Taking on R.J. Umberger's contract would give the Flyers around $3.6M in cap space to resign Del Zotto and find a back-up goalie. That doesn't give them room to do anything else, but is doable, cap wise. Kessel would look amazing playing with Claude Giroux, but this trade would do nothing to help their blueline.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Cap Situation

Could Kessel go from Tyler Bozak to Sidney Crosby? Well, hold on, not so fast there. The team has around $9.6M in cap space right now, but have nearly 43% of the $71M cap tied up in four players: Crosby, Malkin, Letang, and Fleury.

The team has been plagued with depth issues for years. Can they really afford to take on a player with a caphit as large as Kessel's?

If they can make the money work, it likely means that a player like Chris Kunitz (35) or Pascal Dupuis (36) will be coming the other way. Both have two years left, with similar caphits ($3.85M and $3.75M, respectively). Rob Scuderi and Brandon Sutter are in that same cap-hit range, as well.

Players to Target

Their top prospect is defenceman Derrick Pouliot, who saw some sheltered minutes in the NHL last year. Their 2014 first round pick, Kasperi Kapanen, is also a good prospect. Beyond that, though? The only other player worth trading for is Olli Maatta, and he's not going anywhere. They are also without this year's first.

Are they a good fit?

Yes and no. Yes because adding Kessel would make Pittsburgh's top six even more deadly than it already is. No because it would leave the team with little cap room to fix the rest of their team. It may be possible, but it would require some creative manoeuvring from management.

Further, the price would absolutely gut their already shallow farm system.

New York Rangers

Cap Situation

The Rangers have a few important RFAs to resign: Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin, and J.T Miller. Resigning the three of them will take up a large chunk of their $11M in cap space. Even if a player like Dan Boyle ($4.5M with one year left) comes back, that still wouldn't clear enough space for Kessel's caphit. Dan Girardi is another possibility (he didn't have the best year), but the Leafs shouldn't be taking on a player with 5 years left on his contract.

Another (extremely unlikely) possibility would be to include Rick Nash as part of the package. He's a couple years older than Kessel with a similar caphit. His production is likely to decline soon.

Players to Target

The Rangers have a pretty weak prospect pool. Their best prospect is probably 20 year old Pavel Buchnevich, who scored 30 points in 48 games in the KHL last season. They're also without a pick in two of the next three drafts.

Are they a good fit?

The money doesn't work at all for the Rangers. More importantly, though, the Leafs probably wouldn't be getting a good enough return for Kessel.

Boston Bruins

Cap Situation

As with all the other teams we've looked at, the Bruins are capped out. Dougie Hamilton's an RFA this season, and he's going to get paid. If seeing Kessel as a Bruin again isn't hard enough, any trade would likely have Milan Lucic and his $6M contract coming back the other way.

David Krejci or Loui Eriksson could also be salary dumps, but the former is signed until the 2021 season and the latter won't give them enough cap space.

Players to Target

Dougie Hamilton and David Pastrnak are both fantastic players who would look great in blue and white.

Are they a good fit?

Considering this trade was very depressing. Let's just close the book now and never speak of this possibility again. Thanks.

Chicago Blackhawks

Cap Situation

The big Toews and Kane extensions kick in this season. Need I say more?

Okay, fine, let's consider this a little more. If the Blackhawk's can move Sharp's contract without taking on any additional salary, sending Bryan Bickell to the Leafs as a salary dump may clear just enough space for Kessel.

Are they a good fit?

I'm going to skip an entire section because there is no way that Kessel is going to the Blackhawks. It's just not going to happen.

Los Angeles Kings

Cap Situation

Again, this is a capped out team. The biggest obstacle to making a trade work between these two teams is the nature of the contracts that would have to come the other way. Dustin Brown, Mike Richards, and Marian Gaborik all have large cap hits and could be salary dump candidates, were it not for the length of their contracts. Richards' contract expires in 2020, Gaborik's in 2021 and Brown's the year after.

Players to Target

Their best prospect is arguably Adrian Kempe who, while good, is definitely not on the level of some of the other names I've tossed around. Tyler Toffoli, meanwhile, is unlikely to be traded.

Are they a good fit?

Like with Chicago, a trade with the Los Angeles just doesn't work. In order to get the Kings' under the cap, the Leafs would have to take back an awful, long term contract, something that Leafs management has already said they won't do.

Any possible return would likely be sub-par, as well.

Minnesota Wild

Cap Situation

At this point, I can just skip the stuff about this team being capped out and move on to possible salary dumps. The Wild have a handful of good but aging players like Mikko Koivu, Thomas Vanek, and Jason Pominville. I floated the idea of trading an aging star with the Rangers, but the Wild might be a better fit.

Of the three, Vanek's contract is the shortest. He is probably the best option to clear space for Kessel.

Players to Target

Jonas Brodin and Matthew Dumba are at the top of my wishlist. Their prospect pool is not as strong as some of the other teams, led by 2014 1st rounder Alex Tuch.

Are they a good fit?

It's certainly possible for the Wild to fit Kessel under the cap, unlike a couple other capped out teams. Whether they're a good fit or not is largely dependent on whether they're willing to give up Brodin or Dumba.

Montreal Canadiens, part deux

Fine. I've looked at every other team, I suppose I'm going to have to do this.

Cap Situation

Alex Galchenyuk is an RFA, but the Canadiens can probably make the finances work if they send P.A Parenteau ($4M caphit for two more years) the other way.

Players to Target

The aforementioned Alex Galchenyuk is a good target. In terms of prospects, Nikita Sherbak, Jarred Tinordi, and Michael McCarron are the team's best prospects.

Are they a good fit?

As much as it pains me to admit, the Canadiens are probably the best fit out of all of the teams I looked at, at least in the sense that the team could actually make things work, cap wise. Like with the Wild, whether or not a trade would work is dependent on who the team is willing to give up.

The Verdict

Bob McKenzie has it pretty much right when it comes to these eight teams. Figuring out a trade with most of these teams would be incredibly difficult. But, at least now you'll know what a possible trade for Phil could look like so you won't embarrass yourself like these charming fans.

I'll give the last word to the man himself: