Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Phil Kessel Situation

Holding out was a classic maneuver under the old CBA - several players even held out for an entire season (Petr Nedved, Michael Peca, Alexei Yashin, to name a few). We have yet to see that under the new CBA, in part because a player can only hold out to December 1, according to 11.4 of the CBA. If he holds out longer, he will be ineligible to sign a contract. We suspect this clause has something to do with the salary cap, but that is a discussion for another day.

Phil Kessel is still unsigned as the Bruins head to camp this week. It is theorized that the Leafs made a trade for their 2nd round draft pick so that they can submit an offer sheet to Kessel - teams must have their draft picks in order to submit offer sheets. Here is the compensation teams receive based on the size of the offer sheet submitted.

Could the Leafs submit an offer for something like 5 years, 30.1 million? This would entitle the Bruins to a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round pick in compensation. The Leafs' biggest lack is a top-end scoring threat, and Kessel certainly showed himself to be that last season. The real question is - would the Bruins let Phil Kessel go if this offer were made?

Digression On The Bruins' Salary Cap Problems

Everyone is talking about the salary cap hell the Blackhawks are putting themselves in, but the Bruins are also in an uncomfortable spot. They owe 36.8 million to 10 players, plus $1 million in buyouts. That's 37.8 million already committed to next year's cap, plus Milan Lucic and Blake Wheeler are going to be RFAs, the latter arbitration-eligible. Marc Savard is a UFA next off-season, and unless the Bruins can get rid of a salary or two, he may not be able to re-sign with Boston.

Back to Kessel

Kessel being paid $6 million would throw the Bruins' cap commitment to 43.8 million for 11 players. It is totally untenable even if the salary cap stays at its present 56.8M level - the Bruins would have to make a trade. While Marco Sturm is probably disposable, bringing that level down to 40 million to 10 players, it still leaves 16.8 million for 10 players. That sounds like a lot, but Lucic and Wheeler are RFA, and with the latter being arb eligible, he is going to get at least 2.5 million if he sustains last season's performance. Lucic is also a candidate to draw an offer sheet - like Dustin Penner, he is big and supremely overrated. The Bruins have a tough road ahead - letting Kessel go may solve some problems while replenishing their prospect base for future Stanley Cup runs.


It may be in Boston's best interest to let Kessel go if Toronto signs him to an offer sheet. They may work out some other compensation instead of draft picks, but Boston just doesn't have much room to operate under the salary cap at the moment.

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