Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan admitted on Thursday that there has been significant interest on the availability of winger Phil Kessel, but on the eve of the NHL Draft, there’s no concrete offer on the table.
“He’s probably garnered the most interest. He’s probably the player that’s gotten the most phone calls,” Shanahan said on Thursday in Florida. “I think there’s some competition out there amongst teams that want him, that want other players of ours, and we might keep him. We’re not really committing to anything one way or another right now.
“We have time on our side. We don’t feel we have to do anything knee-jerk on some self-imposed or outer-imposed deadline.”
Reports have suggested the Pittsburgh Penguins are amongst the teams interested in the 27-year-old’s services.
Kessel has a list of eight teams he’s willing to waive his no-trade clause for, and according to Shanahan trade talks have not progressed to the point of contacting the player.
“Until we have a deal, there’s no point involving any players,” he said. “It’s mostly, up until now, just been talk and progression of talk. I don’t think we’ve been at a point where there’s a definitive offer out there, but there’s been some really encouraging conversations that have started weeks ago and have grown and are continuing to grow.”
Kessel’s eight-year, $64 million deal carries an $8 million cap hit for the next seven seasons.
By his standards Kessel had an off year in 2014-15.
He scored 25 goals and 61 points in 82 games and finished with a minus-34 rating. It was his lowest goal total in an 82-game season since 2007-08 (his second year in the league).
“When you have a guy like that, who is such a natural goal-scorer in the prime of his career, everybody wants goal-scoring,” said Shanahan. “Obviously in a cap world it’s not as easy for everybody to fit that player in as there used to be in the old days. But he’s a great player and a great goal-scorer; great finisher so there’s been a lot of interest.”
Related: Report: Leafs would take a contract back in a Kessel trade