Report: Leafs would take a contract back in a Kessel trade

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There’s more than one way to grease the wheels for a big trade.

When it comes to the Toronto Maple Leafs and Phil Kessel, all sorts of details have been seeping through. Will Toronto need to retain some of his salary to make a move? Might Kessel block a trade that doesn’t suit his interests? Are the Buds asking for too much?

In his always-essential “30 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman notes that the Maple Leafs would be willing to eat salary in a more direct way: by taking a contract from another team to make a deal happen.

There are some caveats, though:

Toronto’s let it be known it will take salary back for Phil Kessel, but there is a limit. It’s got to be less (in term and value) than Kessel’s. The Maple Leafs are more interested in prospects and draft picks, but recognize that alone won’t get a deal done. Since the idea is to help create cap flexibility, it doesn’t make sense to receive a similar contract in return.

With an $8 million cap hit (not to mention $10 million in salary for 2015-16), it should be no surprise that the 27-year-old would be too expensive to trade for picks alone.

The Maple Leafs might need to get creative, and considering their deal for Nathan Horton’s dead money – not to mention other progressive recent decisions – it wouldn’t be shocking to see them jump through a few hoops to find a trade partner.

You know, assuming that the many rumors are true, of course.