The Boston Globe reports that restricted free agent winger Phil Kessel will no longer be negotiating with the Boston Bruins and will likely now await either a trade or an offer sheet from a rival club. The writer suggests that Boston GM Peter Chiarelli would likely prefer going through the trade route in order to receive a package of higher value than 3 unproven draft picks as compensation for an offer sheet in the $5 million range. The article also makes an interesting point: despite missing 12 games, Kessel finished tied for 12th in NHL scoring last season and the players above him average $6.5 million in annual salary. Makes you think, doesn’t it.
With that being said, the pressure to make a deal seems to lie on the Bruins because per the CBA rules, if Kessel were to sign an offer sheet before the Bruins can find a suitable trade, they would be forced to either let him go or match and keep him. They cannot simply match an offer sheet and then seek to deal him for a package of higher value than the draft picks during the first year of his new deal. But again, sneaking behind the Bruins GM’s back to ink Kessel to an offer sheet before they have a chance to act may trigger some harsh sentiment and retaliation.
In other news, just a friendly reminder that tonight is the fourth and final game of the Leafs rookie tournament in Kitchener, which kicks off at 7pm ET against the rival Ottawa Senators. Coverage will be aired once again on Rogers TV channels 10 and 60.