I've got a couple of quick hits while in a brief lull here at the Rangers training facility. I'll be back with another post later this afternoon about the Rangers cutting roster to 30 players, as well as the latest on Marian Gaborik's health and first scrimmage.
But first....as I speculated yesterday, Boston GM Peter Chiarelli and his Toronto counterpart Brian Burke did meet face to face to discuss a potential Phil Kessel trade. Pierre Lebrun over at ESPN.com is reporting that the two met for about an hour yesterday since Chiarelli's Bruins were in town to face Burke's Maple Leafs. Lebrun says that a deal could be struck by the weekend or the middle of next week.
I am hearing---and Lebrun is also reporting---that the Nashville Predators are also in the mix for Kessel, and have offered an NHL player or two along with draft picks. Reportedly, the Leafs offer has included only draft picks, though featuring a pair of first rounders.
The Preds really could use Kessel to add juice to their offense up front, which falls off considerably after Jason Arnott. Having Steve Sullivan healthy again is great for Nashville, but he can't be counted on to be a go-to offensive threat. And Martin Erat, David Legwand, and JP Dumont are nice complimentary players, with Colin Wilson an intriguing prospect. Phil Kessel, though, would be the star forward the Preds do not have.
But Toronto needs Keesel, too. Burke has rebuilt his club in the off-season, but the emphasis has been more on grit and size, not so much on skill. Plus the best players brought in by Burke---Mike Komisarek and Francois Beauchemin---are defensemen. Kessel is a 21 year-old stud forward. And the Leafs need him just as much as the Preds---as do many other teams in the NHL, for that matter.
BTW, in their quest to beef up the offense, the Maple Leafs have 34 year-old Jason Allison in camp on a tryout. Allison---a two-time 30-goal scorer---has not played since the 2005-06 season, so this is a reach, for sure. Certainly not a bigger reach than Theo Fleury in camp with the Flames, but really every team has one or two of these veteran invites in camp, looking to catch lightning in a bottle.
Nonetheless, Allison did play last night against one of his former clubs, the Bruins. I didn't see the game---was at The Rock in Newark for Rangers-Devils instead---but the stat sheet reveals a fairly nondescript night for him: a bit more than 14 minutes of ice-time with nearly 4 minutes on the power play, zero shots, zero points, 2 hits, lost 7 of 10 draws.
Speaking of the 41-year-old Fleury, he will suit up tonight against the Islanders, his first NHL action of any kind in six years. Fleury told the Calgary Sun, "The hardest part for me is leading up to the game. Once the puck's dropped, I know what to do."
Fleury also revealed that he will four years sober tomorrow. Good for him. And good luck to him on his long-shot comeback. May he enjoy it no matter how long or short it lasts.
Back later on with Rangers news and quotes....