Pierre Lebrun joined the Bryan Hayes Show to discuss, among other things, the Kessel to Florida rumour.
How real is the Panthers-Kessel connection?
Let’s go through this together. I can tell you, from sources in both front offices, there have not been any conversations between the two teams concerning Phil Kessel. Having said that, if you’re going to look for a team to get into the mix — and I think this is a June conversation more than anything — the Panthers have a tonne of cap room, a new owner, have had trouble scoring this year, and I think Tallon has always been fond of Kessel. I would suggest, if this conversation ever happens between Tallon and Nonis, that they’re going to say they are not giving up any grade A talent for this guy.
Is that the same impression elsewhere?
There are Phil Kessel lovers in the league. Who is the President of Hockey Ops in Calgary? [Brian Burke]. The Kessel derby gets going in the summer and it wouldn’t surprise me if Calgary at least looks into it. He’s not GM and he would adhere to Brad Treliving, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were a part of that mix. I know a few other teams that would be in that have asked not be named. I think what’s going to be interesting is this, when the time comes on Kessel: Is this going to be about simply getting rid of the contract and getting little in turn, or if the Leafs are willing to eat some of the contract and then get something in return, because he is a very good offensive player. Those are two different transactions and I don’t think you’re pulling both off in one deal.
As low as people’s opinion is of Phil Kessel in some areas of this city, you’d be surprised what you hear from other teams. That’s not say they don’t agree 8 million a year is a lot.
On Dion Phaneuf:
I wrote this yesterday in my rumblings blog, if Toronto phoned Detroit tomorrow and said Phaneuf is now a 5.5 million player instead of a 7 million player, do we have a conversation? The answer would probably be yes, they’d be intrigued by that conversation. What we’re hearing from our sources with the Leafs is that they’re not interested in eating contract right now.
Bob McKenzie on TSN Drive:
Olli Jokinen — Any chance they get some value for him?
I guess. Anything is possible. He hasn’t the kind of year that would generate a lot of interest, but you never know now; at the last moment someone might be sitting there who has lost out on this guy or that guy, feels like they want a veteran body, and they might get a little something something. I wouldn’t go to the bank on it.
Does him having next to zero playoff experience water down any attraction?
I think there’s an element to that. Mind you, internationally, for Finland, he’s been pretty good, and those are playoff type games. Our stats guy sent out a thing that showed people playing the most NHL games with least playoff experience and Olli is right up there. Only way you can get playoff experience is to get it and it’s kind of late in the game for Olli at this point.