Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel isn’t scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent until the summer of 2014, but it’s not surprising the topic of his future is already coming up.
After all, he’s scored at least 30 goals in each of his last four seasons and the nightmare scenario for the Leafs should be him leaving as a free agent rather than via a trade — especially given the top picks turned young stars the Leafs traded to the Boston Bruins to get the 25-year-old in the first place.
Fortunately, it sounds like the Leafs won’t have to decide between trading him or watching him walk.
“If you asked Phil today, he’d love to finish his career here in Toronto. But it’s still young in his career right now,” Kessel’s agent, Wade Arnott said on Sportsnet 590 The Fan.
“Phil would like nothing more than to help the Maple Leafs make the playoffs. He wants to experience playoff hockey here in Toronto.”
Of course, just because he’d like to stay doesn’t necessarily mean that the negotiations will go smoothly. He can’t engage in negotiations until this summer, so it still remains to be seen what Kessel will demand and if he’ll end up seeing eye-to-eye with the Leafs.
In the meantime, Kessel will continue to work towards leading the Leafs to the playoffs for the first time since he joined them.
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.