If Dean Blundell of Sportsnet The FAN 590 is to be believed, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Carolina Hurricanes could be talking about a blockbuster deal involving some big pieces for both teams. He says his source is apparently the same source that told him about the amount of money that would be required to bring Mike Babcock to Toronto. Now, it’s definitely just speculation at the moment, but let’s talk about it anyway.
The speculated trade would see Alex Semin and the Hurricanes’ fifth overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft go to Toronto with a piece off their roster, naming Phil Kessel and Nazem Kadri, and the Leafs’ 24th overall pick going to Carolina. Blundell mentions Jeff Skinner as well.
The Hurricanes’ Perspective
This move would be a sign that the Hurricanes want to win sooner rather than later. Blundell mentions that the Hurricanes are rebuilding. If this trade is indeed in the works, then it flies directly in the face of a rebuild. They already have the Staal brothers, Cam Ward and other players that would be past their prime by the time a full rebuild is finished. However, if Carolina is more interested in a retool rather than a rebuild, then it might work.
Getting rid of Semin would solve lots of problems for the Hurricanes. He has been wildly inconsistent for years, not living up to his $7 million cap hit. He’s been a healthy scratch many times. If they acquired Kessel, they’re only paying $1 million more for a player that is considered one of the NHL’s top goal-scorers.
If there’s one thing that the Hurricanes need, it’s goal-scoring. In the past two seasons, they have been in the bottom ten of the NHL in goals per game. They were fourth-worst this season. Bringing in Kessel would help improve the Hurricanes in that department.
The Hurricanes have picked, or been slated to pick, in the top ten of the draft in four out of the last five drafts. With those picks, they’ve come out with Skinner (seventh overall, 2010), Elias Lindholm (fifth overall, 2013) and Haydn Fleury (seventh overall, 2014). They traded their eighth overall pick in 2012 to Pittsburgh to acquire Jordan Staal. How long will the fifth overall pick take to make any sort of impact with the Hurricanes? Are ‘Canes fans willing to wait?
The Maple Leafs’ Perspective
First of all, trading Kessel or Kadri would clear the Maple Leafs of a distraction.
With Kessel, it’s always something. Whether it’s his conditioning or anything else, it doesn’t look like he was the player the Leafs should have built around. He’s a great supporting piece, especially if a team has a good center with whom to pair him. Moving to a city like Carolina would also get Kessel out of the spotlight that Toronto shines on him.
With Kadri, there’s been talk about his ego and there’s the question of how long it will take him to break out. Of course, when a player is struggling to reach his full potential, the talk of a change of scenery begins. That might be the case with Kadri. He might have to move on from Toronto in order to become more than he is.
In case the Leafs miss out on Dylan Strome, acquiring the fifth pick would be a good plan. If they are indeed talking, this could mean that the Leafs are leaning towards taking Noah Hanifin with the fourth pick, but would still be interested in Mitch Marner. If the Leafs made this trade, they could come out with both players. That would certainly help the rebuild.
With the Stanley Cup Final still going on, trades will have to wait until after the season ends. Will this be one of them or is it just another rumor that gets fans excited and then disappoints them when it doesn’t happen? We’ll have to wait and see.