The Ducks, as it stands, have about $16 million in cap space. They also have to re-sign Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Teemu Selanne, Saku Koivu and goaltender Jonas Hiller.
GM Bob Murray will be looking for a player who can put the puck in the net. That's where Phil Kessel comes in.
He's likely the most tradable asset the Leafs have because he's paid modestly and can produce big-time goal numbers. With Perry's new contract expected to exceed $8 million, look for the Ducks to try to re-sign the cheaper Getzlaf rather than outspend oncoming suitors.
Kessel has had a decent start to the season, despite not putting the puck in the net with any regularity. To his credit, his defence has been better and has shown the ability to backcheck.
However, with the current state of the Leafs being a more hard-nosed, defensive style of play, Kessel's style may not fit in with what Randy Carlyle wants out of his top player.
Corey Perry on the other hand is a handful to deal with and he's a load on the offensive end. His combination of size, toughness and skill is nearly unmatched in the NHL.
Perry has finished with at least 25 goals and over 100 penalty minutes in each of the past five seasons.
Not only has Toronto dealt with Anaheim in the past (JS Giguere and Joffrey Lupul), but now with former GM Brian Burke working as a scout, Anaheim has some insider information on the Toronto prospects. Burke may have some insight into who the Ducks should be asking for in such a deal.
With the expiring contract of Tim Connolly this offseason and the expected buyout of Mike Komisarek expected as well for Toronto, I can easily see the Leafs adding Perry to the fold and signing him to a handsome extension
Perry has five goals and 12 assists (17 points) in 18 games this season. He also sports an impressive plus-10 rating.
As for Kessel, he's at four goals and 12 assists (16 points) in 21 games. Kessel's lack of scoring touch early in the season has been well publicized.
Dave Nonis has yet to put his stamp on this club yet, as I expect Nonis to soon be putting his imprint on the Leafs. There may actually be plenty of truth to this rumor out of the almighty Damien Cox after all.