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Could Kessel block the Leafs from trading him?

Buffalo Sabres v Toronto Maple Leafs

Buffalo Sabres v Toronto Maple Leafs

NHLI via Getty Images

Even if the Toronto Maple Leafs are intent on trading Phil Kessel, they may be challenged by a limited no-trade clause that’s believed to allow Kessel to submit a list of eight teams to which he can be sent.

From TSN/NBC insider Bob McKenzie:

Prior to the trade deadline, TSN reported those eight teams were believed to be: Boston; Chicago; Los Angeles; Minnesota; Montreal; New York Rangers; Philadelphia; and Pittsburgh.

But that doesn’t preclude the possibility of the Leafs finding a suitable deal with a team not on the list and asking the player to amend the list. Also, with each new contract year, it’s believed a new list can be submitted by the player so the list can change from year to year. The contract year expires June 30.

What’s interesting about Kessel’s list is that all eight teams are currently facing significant cap challenges. For any one of them to acquired a player who’s signed through 2021-22 with a cap hit of $8 million, they’d need to shed some serious salary in the process.

As McKenzie notes, the Leafs don’t necessarily have to trade Kessel to one of those eight teams. Kessel’s list could change. Or, he could just waive his NTC.

But if Kessel is intent on staying in Toronto -- and remember, he only signed that contract a couple of years ago -- he could theoretically make it tough for the Leafs to get rid of him.

Or, at the very least, he could make it tough for them to get much in return.

“I signed for eight years last season. I love Toronto,” Kessel said in April, per “The fans have been great to me. I love the guys and I love playing here. So, hopefully I’m back.”

Related: Dreger: ‘In Kessel’s case, I firmly believe he’s going to be traded’