Photo by Amy Irvin/38 Photography
Earlier this weekend, we learned from TSN’s Bob McKenzie that the Flyers are one of eight teams believed to be on the list that Maple Leafs star Phil Kessel would accept a trade to. This report has predictably given birth to some discussion about Kessel wearing orange and black next season.
The thought of Kessel as a Flyer is extremely enticing. He has been one of the NHL’s leading scorers over the past 5 seasons. He is one of the most entertaining offensive players in the game. He also has never played with a linemate of Claude Giroux or Jakub Voracek’s caliber. If you tell me that you didn’t at least daydream about this a little bit, you are lying.
However, the reality of this situation is that trading for Kessel would make just about no sense for the Flyers. Kessel is an expensive player who is quickly nearing the end of his prime right now. The Flyers (cap-wise) are a poor team that is not currently one acquisition away from being a contender. Even if the Flyers were able to create the necessary cap space (8M) to acquire Kessel, the costs would likely be much too hurtful to their future to make this a realistic conversation. Let’s first consider what we’d have to send back to Toronto.
The price for Phil Kessel will be very high. The Maple Leafs will likely be looking for a first round pick, a young and proven NHL player and a good prospect in return for Kessel. On the Flyers that would mean Sean Couturier, a 1st round pick (probably #7), and one of their prized defensive prospects. And that is just to get the conversation started. These aren’t Dave Nonis’ Leafs anymore, and top scorers in their primes do not get traded for peanuts.
For a cap-strapped team that is currently looking for build for the future, giving up young and affordable assets to acquire an expensive player would be completely counterproductive. Even if the Flyers were going to consider trading those assets, they would be much better off addressing a more pressing need by targeting a #1 defenseman. If Phil Kessel is getting traded, he belongs on a team that has cap room and is a top scorer away from being a Cup contender next season. Unfortunately, the Flyers are at the other end of the spectrum right now. As attractive as Phil Kessel would look wearing Flyers orange, I’m taking a hard pass here.