Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos joined Bob McCown and Elliotte Friedman for Prime Time Sports on Tuesday night to discuss the Toronto Maple Leafs.
After offering some praise on L.A. Kings superstars Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty, talk shifted to the Maple Leafs best player: Phil Kessel.
When McCown asked him to gauge Kessel’s trade value, Kypreos was quick to highlight his elite goal scoring ability and what that brings to the table, but he wasn’t prepared to call the 27-year-old sniper a piece worth building a team around.
“Kessel in the right circumstances could be very valuable,” said Kypreos. “He’s a difference maker that could win you a Stanley Cup in the right circumstances.
“Kessel’s an accessory. He puts the finishing touches on something. He’s just not a centrepiece of something that you build around.
“When you put him in the right circumstances, like a Glenn Anderson, teams will be willing to pay an awful lot for that.”
Anderson, of course, is a Hall of Famer who scored 498 goals in the NHL and played a major offensive role on six Stanley Cup champion teams. He played trade chip himself back in 1991 when the Edmonton Oilers sent him, Grant Fuhr, and Craig Berube to the Maple Leafs for Vincent Damphousse, Peter Ing, Scott Thornton, and Luke Richardson.
Kypreos furthered the Kessel trade discussion on Wednesday morning when he joined Brady & Walker on Sportsnet 590 The FAN.
“I don’t think you’re getting enough bang for your buck at $8 million per year,” said Kypreos. “You can’t build around Phil Kessel. It hasn’t worked out, to be quite honest.
“If you can go out there and get a centrepiece for Phil, if it’s a top-five pick that you can guarantee then do it.
“Could you trade Phil and bring back a Max Domi? That’s the type of thing that I would be looking at. There’s no guarantee that Max Domi will be a superstar in this league but I’ll take my chances…”
Kessel leads the Maple Leafs in assists and points, and sits tied with James van Riemsdyk in goals with 19.
The Maple Leafs currently trail the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers by five points for one of the Eastern Conference wild card spots, with the Florida Panthers two points up on them as well.
Following the dismissal of former head coach Randy Carlyle last week, the Maple Leafs’ brass intimated that they will look to see what they have in the current squad over the course of the second half. If the general manager Dave Nonis and president Brendan Shanahan intend to blow up the roster, and trading Kessel would certainly represent as much, then it seems more likely that it would take place in the off-season.
Kessel has scored at least 30 goals in five of the last six seasons. The lockout shortened 2012-13 season stands as the lone year he didn’t top 30 goals.