Maple Leafs in position to take a run at Kessel

Kevin Paul Dupont

Bruin Phil Kessel, almost dealt to the Maple Leafs in June, soon could be fitted for a Toronto sweater.

The question is: Will the Leafs once again try to pry Kessel away via a trade, or will Toronto general manager Brian Burke opt instead to extend an offer sheet to the fourth-year right wing, who last season scored a career-high 36 goals?“I’ve got nothing to say about any of it,’’ said Burke, when asked if he were on the verge of adding Kessel, a restricted free agent, to his roster. “Sorry, I’m just not going to go there.’’

Burke yesterday made a deal to reacquire Toronto’s second-round pick in 2010 from the Blackhawks in exchange for a pair of 2011 picks – Toronto’s own third-rounder and a second-rounder via Calgary. If Burke were to hand Kessel something around $4.5 million a year or more via an offer sheet, then the Bruins would have to match the deal or take the compensation that would include first-, second-, and third-round picks. Until his deal yesterday, Burke didn’t have the necessary draft picks to be in position to make Kessel an offer.

The Predators and Rangers also are believed to covet the 21-year-old Kessel, whom the Bruins have hoped to re-sign at a salary similiar to what they gave David Krejci (three years at $3.75 million average) earlier in the summer.