New Jersey Devils 2015 First Round Pick: Who’s Worth Trading It For?

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Feb 20, 2015; Raleigh, NC, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel (81) takes a 3rd period shot against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Phil Kessel

by Anthony Smith

Phil Kessel is an interesting case. He’s been all but driven out of Toronto, and his relationship with the Maple Leafs’ fan-base is so damaged at this point that it is hard to fathom it ever being mended, making him a logical trade candidate moving forward.

Regardless of the issues surrounding his presence in Toronto, Kessel is a proven NHL commodity. Heading into his age-28 season, he’s already posted five 30-goal seasons, which would be six if not for the 2012-13 lockout. He’s a three time all-star who has also posted two 80-point seasons during his eight-plus year career.

He’d be a fit for the New Jersey Devils because, obviously, the Devils need scoring help. Mike Cammalleri has been a great fit for the Devils and has showcased his scoring ability this season, but as I wrote earlier this season, Cammalleri can’t do it alone. He needs help, and Kessel would fill a void left behind by the departures of Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk over the past few seasons just like JVR would.

Kessel comes with a steep price tag, a front-loaded contract that carries a cap hit of $8 million over the next seven seasons. But with the contracts of Michael Ryder, Bryce Salvador, Martin Havlat, and of course, Marek Zidlicky and Jaromir Jagr coming off the books next season, New Jersey will have money to spend this summer. If the Maple Leafs continue to make Kessel available, as he reportedly was at the trade deadline, Lou Lamoriello should be in constant contact with Toronto general manager Dave Nonis. Either Kessel or JVR would be a great add for NJ – or perhaps both?

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