Kessel trade seems imminent; Maple Leafs still front-runner to add Bruins forward

September, 17, 2009

Scoring Class

If Phil Kessel is traded, the winning team will get one of the league's top young goal scorers from last season. Here's a look at the most regular-season goals from players under the age of 23 during the 2008-09 season:

Alex Ovechkin, Capitals:
56 goals (age 23)
Phil Kessel, Bruins:
36 goals (age 21)
Loui Eriksson, Stars:
36 goals (age 23)
Evgeni Malkin, Penguins:
35 goals (age 22)

Phil Kessel is still a Bruin, but certainly not for long.

A source told on Thursday that a trade could be done by the end of the weekend or at least by midway next week.

Boston GM Peter Chiarelli and Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke met for about an hour Wednesday before the two teams faced off in a preseason game at Air Canada Centre. The two sides furthered their discussions on making Kessel a Maple Leaf.

However, the Nashville Predators also remain in the picture, as do two others clubs, another source told us Thursday.

"Why wouldn't we want Phil Kessel?" Preds GM David Poile told on Tuesday. "He scored 36 goals last year and he's a young player. Yes, we have interest."

The Minnesota Wild had brief discussions with the Bruins about Kessel, but are not really considered to be in the mix.

The Leafs remain the front-runner after offering the strongest package (at least two first-round draft picks), as Burke has made no bones about his desire to add the 21-year-old restricted free-agent forward.

Pierre LeBrun

ESPN Senior Writer



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