Leafs blow it up real good with Phil Kessel blockbuster

Phil Kessel (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

The first thing fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs will have to get their heads around is that there’s a very good chance Phil Kessel will go to the Pittsburgh Penguins and score 40 goals a year. He might even score more. He could end up being wildly successful with the Penguins and might even win a Stanley Cup there. Kessel could end up being happier and more productive than he ever was in Toronto. And people will have to learn to be perfectly OK with that.

Because that’s very well what might happen here. But the Maple Leafs traded their franchise player on free agent day because they knew he was never, ever going to do those things for them. Kessel was a terrible fit from the day he first signed with the Leafs, cast in the role of the face of the franchise and the undisputed leader by a GM who obviously failed to do his homework on the player. And the problem was perpetuated when his successor signed Kessel to an eight-year deal worth $64 million prior to last season.

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Kevin Bieksa does the electric slide down the West Coast in trade to Anaheim

Brian Costello
Kevin Bieksa. (Getty Images)

For the second summer in a row, the Vancouver Canucks are sending a proven playoff performer down the Pacific Coast to Anaheim. The Ducks acquired 34-year-old defenseman Kevin Bieksa from the Canucks for a second round draft choice in 2016.

Last summer, the Canucks sent Ryan Kesler to the Ducks for a package the included Nick Bonino.

Vancouver GM Jim Benning has been trying to deal Bieksa since the end of the season and was thought to be close to a deal that would send him to San Jose. Winding up in another part of California was just fine for him.

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Saad return underwhelming, but what did you expect?

Brandon Saad (Photo by Megan Bearder /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)

At first glance, it’s pretty tempting to look at the return Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman got for Brandon Saad and deem it to be underwhelming. Like, really underwhelming. But Bowman also realizes, perhaps better than any other GM in the business, that when you’re not dealing from a position of strength, your pals in the GM fraternity are more likely to throw you an anchor than a life preserver.

Either that, or Marko Dano is going to be a lot better than everyone thought. Or perhaps Bowman, who seems to know a little bit about evaluating talent, saw in Saad a player whose value was perhaps a little inflated by playing with Jonathan Toews so much and being part of such a strong team. No doubt, he saw an offer sheet coming. But if that offer sheet had contained a six at the front of the salary number, the Blackhawks would have received a first-, second- and third-round choice. Instead, they dealt Saad and two prospects to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Artem Anisimov, Dano, Jeremy Morin, Corey Tropp and a fourth-round pick in 2016.

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Blackhawks shock everyone, trade Saad to Blue Jackets for package including Anisimov, Dano

Brandon Saad (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

It was clear changes would be coming for the Chicago Blackhawks following their 2015 Stanley Cup championship, but no one would have expected those changes to include trading away burgeoning star Brandon Saad. But with their hand forced, the Blackhawks did exactly that.

Chicago confirmed Tuesday afternoon that they have dealt restricted free agent Saad, along with prospects Alex Broadhurst and Michael Paliotta, to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for a four-player package that includes Artem Anisimov, Marko Dano, Jeremy Morin, Corey Tropp and a fourth-round selection in the 2016 draft.

News of the deal took the hockey world by storm. Less than half an hour after the first reports of the deal between Chicago and Columbus first surfaced from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the deal had gone through and Saad was sent packing to the Blue Jackets. Read more

Bruins’ Maxime Talbot takes to Twitter to squash trade rumor

Jared Clinton
Maxime Talbot (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

In an age of instant communication and social media rumor mills, one single report can sometimes spiral out of control. That’s why Boston Bruins winger Maxime Talbot took it upon himself to make sure he cleared the air when it came to a rumor that he had requested a trade out of Beantown.

The rumor itself began shortly after the Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers had swung a deal that saw Boston land checking-line left winger Zac Rinaldo in exchange for a third-round pick.

With Rinaldo coming into the Bruins lineup – he and Talbot can play similar roles, so it was believed that maybe this was the end of the line for the veteran Talbot – the rumor of a requested trade began. Some reports had the rumor beginning on a local Boston radio station and it continued to spread throughout Twitter. Just hours later, though, Talbot made sure to kill the buzz by taking to social media to deny the report. Read more

Bruins continue to baffle hockey world with Zac Rinaldo trade

Ryan Kennedy
Zac Rinaldo (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Boston Bruins are by far the most fascinating team in the NHL right now. If you’re a fan of the venerable franchise, I apologize: car-crash fascinating is a lot different than the good kind. But here we are.

Milan Lucic is gone, yet some of his salary remains. Dougie Hamilton has been traded for assets that may or may not ever play an NHL game. And now, Zac Rinaldo acquired from Philadelphia for a third-round selection in 2017.

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Dallas Stars going with a two-headed dragon next season

Ryan Kennedy
Antti Niemi (Francois Lacasse/Getty Images)

Conventional wisdom went out the window on the weekend when Dallas made a trade with San Jose for the rights to pending unrestricted free agent Antti Niemi. Now that the Stars have signed the starting goaltender to a three-year pact, the rationale on why a franchise that already has Kari Lehtonen between the pipes needed another goalie has been revealed.

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