A team looking to acquire Toronto Maple Leafs sniper Phil Kessel might not have to pay his full salary.
According to St. Louis Blues beat reporter Andy Strickland, the Leafs have told at least one team they’d be willing to keep $2 million of Kessel’s salary as part of a potential trade.
It’s unknown which team Strickland could be referring to, but there are a number of teams interested in the 27-year-old winger. Kessel’s salary cap hit is $8 million per season until 2022.
Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan told reporters at the 2015 NHL Draft this past weekend that Kessel had garnered more interest than any other player on the team. Not surprising considering the five-time 30-goal scorer is one of the elite forwards in the league — only Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos, Corey Perry and Rick Nash have scored more goals in the last six seasons.
According to Sportsnet’s Damien Cox, the Pittsburgh Penguins are one of the teams interested in Kessel.
Shanahan also said at the draft that although the Leafs didn’t come close to pulling the trigger on a trade involving a core player, trade talks did occur.
“There were some discussions initiated here down on the floor with teams that are still alive,” Shanahan explained. “[Those teams] were under no rush, we were under no rush, so this was a good time for some initial contact to be made.”
While it has been widely speculated that Kessel will be dealt in the off-season, there is no guarantee he’ll be moved by the start of the 2015-16 campaign.
“We have a great coach that we think in a lot of ways can help some of these guys,” Shanahan added. “This [rebuild] is not a process that we thought we needed to do over a matter of weeks. This is going to be a process that’s going to take a matter of years.”