As rumors continued to swirl around Bruins restricted free agent Phil Kessel, the Bruins and Kessel continued to take the high road and remain mum on the situation.
While addressing the media after the first day of training camp Saturday, Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli refused to comment on the stalemate with his leading goal-scorer from a season ago.
“I will not be commenting on any contract negotiations or trade speculation concerning Phil Kessel,” Chiarelli told the assembled media.
Head coach Claude Julien praised his boss for not commenting on the Kessel saga and refraining from entering a war of words with Kessel and his agent Wade Arnott.
“I think our focus is really on our team,” Julien said. “At the same time, I think Peter has done a great job of handling this situation. From the outside people can make comments. But he’s been very professional at keeping that situation in control and not having to get into a war of words, and I respect that. It’s easy to be loose-lipped and feel like you need to defense yourself, but he doesn’t. And I have full confidence that he’ll handle the situation well and the players feel that way too.”
The players didn’t really discuss Kessel either but remained confident that should they have to say goodbye to their teammate, they have the depth to replace his scoring.
“We’ve got enough depth here that we can all chip in and make up for it,” forward Patrice Bergeron said of finding a way to account for the 36 lamp-lighters Kessel provided last season. “We are a balanced team and that’s why we had success. We don’t just depend on one guy.”
Meanwhile Predators GM David Poile told the Nashville Tennessean on Saturday that he has had discussions with Chiarelli regarding a possible trade for the 21-year old sniper.
"He's a young player that scores goals, and that's very much of interest to us,” Poile told Tennessean hockey scribe John Glennon. "We've talked concepts. I'd be very interested to see if there might be something he would like from the Predators.''
Poile did imply that he would rather trade for Kessel than submit an offer sheet against the cap-strapped Bruins.
Glennon suggested the Predators offer up forward Alexander Radulov, who bolted for the KHL in Russia last summer but remains Nashville property. Radulov, who last played in the NHL in 2007-08, amassing 26 goals and 58 points, has two years left on his contract with Salavat Yulaev Ufa of the KHL, and is expected to return from Russia to the NHL.
Allan Muir of SI.com also reported of the Predators interest in Kessel, citing Nashville’s cap space, need for scoring and faithful fan base as reasons for Poile to make a big splash by signing Kessel. Muir believes some prospects like Jonathan Blum, the 2009 CHL Defenseman of the Year, or Charles-Olivier Roussel or Zach Budish and a first round pick could help land Kessel in a trade.
Meanwhile, the Rangers and Maple Leafs continue to be mentioned by numerous news outlets as possible suitors as well as the Los Angeles Kings, who sources once again told NESN.com are interested in Kessel and that defenseman Jack Johnson could be had in return.