NHL Morning Rumor Mill – Saturday, February 9, 2013.

Should the Leafs trade Phil Kessel? Are big changes coming for the Capitals. Should the Oilers shop Ryan Whitney. Read on to find out.

Kessel figuring prominently in Leafs trade rumors.

Kessel figuring prominently in Leafs trade rumors.

THE GLOBE AND MAIL: James Mirtle reports  Toronto Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis isn’t offering Phil Kessel around the league, but it’s  believed he is willing to listen to offers. The Kessel trade rumors will surely increase if the Leafs are out of the playoff race before the April 3rd trade deadline. Kessel’s contract status (he’s slated for unrestricted free agency in July 2014) could also be a factor.

TORONTO SUN: Mike Zeisberger makes the case against trading Kessel, pointing out he’s consistently been the Leafs leading scorer the past three seasons. He believes Nonis would have to be bowled over by a significant offer to move Kessel at this point. Zeisberger also believes if the Leafs were to shop Kessel, this summer or next season’s trade deadline would be better, as the return could be greater than what they’d get right now.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with Zeisberger, there’s no point in moving Kessel right now. It’s not like he’s playing poorly, and of late he seems to be gelling with James van Riemsdyk, who was recently moved onto the first line. Unless Nonis gets an offer too good to refuse, he should retain Kessel for this season, attempt to re-sign him this summer, and if Kessel would prefer to move on, try to move him during the summer or by next season’s trade deadline.

ESPN.COM: Craig Custance offered up some suggestions on how the Washington Capitals can improve. One is to try to win now by acquiring a scoring winger, a top-four defenseman and an experienced goaltender, though those moves would mean packaging top prospects and first round picks.  The other would be to play the long game, stick with their current goaltending tandem of Michal Neuvirth and Braden Holtby, shop veteran center Mike Ribeiro, add prospects Filip Forberg and Evgeni Kuznetsov once their contractual obligations are completed in Sweden and Russia respectively,  use the available cap space to add free agent talent this summer, and be in line for a good shot at the first overall pick in this year’s entry draft.

CSNWASHINGTON.COM: Chuck Gormley reports Capitals GM George McPhee blames his club’s poor start on the lack of a regular training camp leading into this season for his players to adjust to their new head coach. McPhee also said he’s not going to blow up his roster.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Capitals haven’t turned the corner by the end of February, then it’s best to build for the future by following Custance’s advice to play the long game. Write this shortened season off as an aberration, promote your kids, perhaps land either the first or second overall pick in this year’s entry draft, and use your cap space to bid competitively for free agent talent. If Alexander Ovechkin’s best days are truly behind him, the Capitals must bolster their offensive depth.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jonathan Willis asks if the Oilers should trade struggling blueliner Ryan Whitney, concluding it would be best to be patient and hope he improves. If they aren’t in playoff contention by the trade deadline, Willis feels it would make sense to try to move Whitney then.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Whitney is a UFA this summer, and has a “no trade clause” in his current contract, though he’d probably waive it for a chance to go to a playoff contender if the Oilers are out of playoff contention by the deadline.

CSNNE.COM: Joe Haggarty recently reported the Boston Bruins are planning to offer goalie Tuukka Rask a lucrative contract extension. He speculates it could be between five-six years and could be in the range of $5 million per season.

OTTAWA CITIZEN: Ken Warren reports Senators goalie Ben Bishop could be part of a package if GM Bryan Murray decides to add a first line center or a veteran defenseman. Murray has previously spoken with the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: For now, Murray isn’t in any hurry. As long as the Senators play well, he can afford to be patient.


  1. I’ll be pissed if the Leafs move Kessel. They should’ve moved Lupul instead of signing him to that huge contract.

    • Bottom line, Nonis has a responsibility to the fans and the Maple Leaf organization. If someone offers a WOW deal for Kessel that makes us better now and for the next 10 years you take it. By WOW I mean a young top 6 forward, solid prospect and 1st rd pick. Same goes for Phaneuf. If trading Kessel does not make us better long term (or we don’
      t get the WOW deal, you keep him, try to find a center and sign him. We don’t have a Crosby, so no player on this current Leaf roster is bigger than the organization.

    • If you are going to move Kessel you move him at the trade deadline this year or in the summer. His contract is unencumbered by any movement restrictions until the start of the 2013-14 season, when a limited no-trade/no movement clause kicks in and trading him becomes more complicated


    This is a young club that can afford to be patient and has one of the highest amount of cap spaces in the league. I think there could be some truth to them talking to the Flames, but I don’t think its around a forward. The Senators could be a really good fit for J-Bo. They have the young goalie, picks, and prospects they can give up to make the deal, J-Bo could come to Ottawa with a lot less pressure and Gonchar is likely to retire this summer which would balance the cap hit.

    The Sens are loaded with great young depth at centre that can allow them to wait and I don’t think they will feel any pressure to go spend a lot for a big time centre or winger. Silf, Turris, Da Costa, and Zibs are all trying to make a big impression right now in the big club. This team still has Stone, Noesen, Prince, and Puempel waiting in the wings.

    • im not too sure ottawa has what calgary should be looking for. if i were ottawa i’d be hard pressed to move my first round pcik (regardless of how well the team is doing). calgary would be askihng for more than lehner which would be fine for both teams because he is expenadable if it makes ottawa better. i agree Jbow would be a great fit for ottawa

  3. Regarding Washington, thanks to Ovechkin they should be in contender status every year, so for a “scoring winger, a top-four defenseman and an experienced goaltender”
    They can get 2 out of 3 with a Vancouver trade, Luongo & Raymond, it makes a lot of sense for them to make this trade, and it would be the much needed shakeup they need!

    As for Kessel he could be the missing piece to the puzzle for the Canucks!

    • What kagee says makes sense. In fact they could get all three of the pieces he feels the Caps need. The Canucks have a glut of good defensemen to go along with Luongo and Raymond. Those of the posters who do not see Raymond on a regular basis are not aware of the speed he posses and his passing ability. He would be a good fit on a Caps team that could use some extra speed. He could also benefit from a change of teams as well. Sure Luongo has the long term contract but he could give a team four or five good years before, or if, his skills start to deteriorate.
      Who would be going to Vancouver in the trade he didn’t say but I believe it would have to be a goalie as the Canucks do not have anyone waiting in the wings should Schneider get injured. Even if there is no trade and if either of the Canuck goalies gets hurt they would still be in a tough spot. Fingers crossed in Vancouver.

      • Lots of salary would have to move to Vancouver in such a trade.

    • i too actually agree kessel is a missing peice for vancouver. the problem is, he would be involved in a deal not including louongo. if i were toronto, i’d be asking for kassian, gaunce and at least 1 first. if vancouver is to make that deal, someone like a frattin etc comming with kessel. the deal works out for both teams though there’s no denying that. vancouver is in a win-now senario which toronto needs prospects/as many 1sts as they can get…in my opinion at least

  4. I’d say that a lack of training camp hurt teams that had new coaches and those with lots of new players.

    OTOH, it wasn’t an impediment to a team like the Broons,who have a long-established coach, system, and players. They only have 3 new players on ther roster. Really impressed with how quickly Dougie Hamilton adapted to Julien’s system. He played like a rover in the junior games I saw as well in the world juniors. Now he plays like he’s been in the league for 5 years. Some said on draft day he had a higher ceiling than Larsson, although Larsson was more NHL ready at the time.

    • Hamilton was a steal at 8th (I’d have taken him over Zibanejad and Scheifele), but whoever said that about Larsson isn’t accurate; it’s true that he was NHL ready at the draft, but no one knows his ceiling because his hockey sense is immeasurable. Hamilton’s progress was more predictable and less of a gamble.

  5. Kesselnikov has no trade value. Ok, mAybe 2 2nd round draft picks,2013 and 2014? It s all you re gonna get.

  6. Sens need to trade for weiss somehow

  7. How about about Kessel to Boston for.. Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton ??

    LOL.. I’ve heard that one before..Way to go Burke!!!

  8. One problem with what Lyle says about the Capitals. Kuznetsov is one of the Top 5 prospects in the world, but there’s no guarantee he’ll ever play in the NHL. He’s been very iffy about ever leaving Russia, He’d have to give up a guaranteed multimillion dollar payday to play under an entry level deal in the US. I’m not holding my breath

    • I should say what Craig Custance says about Kuznetsov, as reported by Lyle. My mistake

  9. How about this for the start of a deal; Phil Kessel and maybe something else like a draft pick or lower tier player to the Wild for Devin Setoguchi, Mathew Dumba and Matthew Hackett. Send Kessel to Minnesota where he played college gives Setoguchi and new start which he needs, Dumba didnt impress the Wild or Hockey Canada so he could be ripe for the picking and turn out to be part of great one two punch with Reilly in the future and Matt Hackett would defniitely be their goalie of the future, and the fact that he is young puts way less pressure on Reimer who is playing well, compared to getting a guy like Luongo.

    • you mean kessel for coyle, dumba and a first i hope. i dont liek kessel and im a leafs fan, but you can’t undervalue him (but i can overvalue him obviously).