The latest on Phil Kessel, Ryan O’Reilly, Joffrey Lupul, Andrej Sekera, Keith Yandle and more. 

Is there serious interest around the league in Phil Kessel?

Is there serious interest around the league in Phil Kessel?

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin lists ten Toronto Maple Leafs trade candidates from least to most likely. Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf rank among the least likely, while Jake Gardiner, Mike Santorelli and Cody Franson are among the most likely.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS’ Mike Heika comments via Twitter on the recent “Joffrey Lupul to the Dallas Stars” rumor: “Heard from two people today that the Stars do not have interest in Joffrey Lupul. He really doesn’t make sense for what they need.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I concur with Larkin’s listing and I’m not surprised by Heika’s report. 

TVASPORTS: Hockey analyst Patrice Brisebois claims the Montreal Canadiens have had interest in Colorado Avalanche forward Ryan O’Reilly for two years. Brisebois claimed Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin’s interest in the Avs forward stretches back to O’Reilly’s contentious contract negotiations with the Avs during the 2012-13 half-season lockout. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres are reportedly interested in O’Reilly.

NICHOLS ON HOCKEY:  TSN’s Bob McKenzie doesn’t see a fit between the Avalanche and the Vancouver Canucks for an O’Reilly trade, speculating it could cost the Canucks defenseman Alex Edler.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stick tap to L.A. Lariviere for the TVA Sports link. I don’t think there’s a fit with the Habs for O’Reilly. The Avs reportedly want a skilled defenseman in return. The Canadiens aren’t parting with P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov, Alex Emelin has a full no-trade clause, I don’t see the Habs moving Nathan Beaulieu, veterans Sergei Gonchar and Mike Weaver are long in the tooth and Tom Gilbert won’t interest the Avs. I agree with McKenzie’s take on O’Reilly and the Canucks.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Maple Leafs decided a while back they’re not pursuing short-term gains at the trade deadline…Darren Dreger claims there are NHL teams who have interest in Phil Kessel and would take on the full value of his contract. If the Leafs trade a player like Kessel or Dion Phaneuf, however, it won’t happen until the offseason…Dreger claims the New York Rangers could be in the market for a center. They had interest last summer in Leafs center Mike Santorelli. Perhaps they revisit that interest if the Leafs fail to re-sign him before the March trade deadline…LeBrun reports Carolina Hurricanes management and agent Alan Walsh, who represents defenseman Andrej Sekera, will take another shot at negotiating a new contract. If the ‘Canes can’t get Sekera re-signed they could shop him at the trade deadline.

ESPN.COM: Pierre LeBrun reports the Detroit Red Wings won’t part with a first-round pick at the trade deadline to bring in help at the trade deadline. LeBrun also believes the Wings, who seek a top-four defenseman with a right-handed shot, are leery of parting with a second-round pick unless it’s to bring in such a blueliner…LeBrun also reports the Arizona Coyotes will try to get what they can before the trade deadline for pending UFAs Antoine Vermette, Zbynek Michalek and David Moss, but he believes they could retain Keith Yandle until the offseason in hopes of a better auction for the blueliner, though that could depend upon what offers they get leading up to the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m not surprised there are teams willing to take on Kessel’s full contract. The guy’s among the top scorers in the NHL and has been for several seasons. Thing is, it’ll take until the offseason to move him, and there’s no guarantee the Leafs will get a good return. I think they’re better off retaining Kessel and instead trying to find a true top-line center, though that’s also not an easy task…I’ll be surprised if the Hurricanes can re-sign Sekera, as he’ll get plenty of interest via free agency this summer…The Wings would like to add a top-four right-handed blueliner but they’re not feeling any significant pressure to make that move this season…A desperate team could make an incredible offer for Yandle at the trade deadline, but I suspect the Coyotes will get better offers for him this summer. 

THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma reports teams are calling about Vancouver Canucks winger Zack Kassian but the little-used winger’s trade value is falling. Moving him would also make the Canucks a smaller team unless they can get another big-bodied forward in return. There’s also the fear Kassian could blossom into a power forward with another club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Cam Neely trade was nearly 30 years ago but it still haunts the Canucks. 

NBC SPORTS: Jason Brough cites reports in the Washington Post noting Capitals GM Brian MacLellan isn’t ruling out being busy leading up to the trade deadline but wants to remain patient with his young players.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Speaking of being haunted by a trade, the Filip Forsberg for Martin Erat swap two years ago will dog the Capitals for years. True, the deal was made by MacLellan’s predecessor George McPhee, but MacLellan was assistant GM. He admitted the Forsberg deal is one he’d like to have back. 

SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS: Mark Purdy believes Sharks GM Doug Wilson faces a difficult choice leading up to the trade deadline. Does he add a player or two to boost the Sharks’ lineup? Does he trade pending UFAs Antti Niemi, Tyler Kennedy and James Sheppard for draft picks? Does he stand pat, or try to move a young player for a young player? “I will not be acquiring any rent-a-players,” Wilson said Tuesday. “I will be giving young players a chance to perform.”

THE TAMPA TRIBUNE’s Erik Erlendsson takes to Twitter with the following on the Lightning: “So, reading between the lines, while I expect the team to acquire a defenseman, doesn’t mean it is imminent or immediate.”