Sources: Leafs covet Bruins' Kessel

Updated: September 12, 2009, 5:45 PM ET
By Pierre LeBruin | ESPN.com

Now that Dany Heatley, mercifully, has been moved, the focus in the hockey world shifts to Phil Kessel.

Kessel
Kessel

And he may not be a Boston Bruin for much longer.

Two sources told ESPN.com Saturday afternoon that Kessel may find a new home soon enough, perhaps in a matter of days, and that the Toronto Maple Leafs are very much the lead dog in the pursuit of the 21-year-old winger.

The Nashville Predators are also believed to be among other clubs interested in Kessel, but clearly Toronto was in the lead Saturday.

One source told ESPN.com the Leafs have offered two first-round picks and a second-round pick as part of the deal.

Another source said if a deal can't be reached soon between Toronto and Boston that the Leafs were seriously considering an offer sheet. The Bruins, of course, could match.

Kessel, a restricted free agent, has been unable to reach terms this summer with the Bruins, and it's been clear the 36-goal scorer would be moved for the right deal by the cap-limited Bruins.

Leafs GM Brian Burke hasn't hid his desire to acquire Kessel, the kind of young offensive force the Leafs are starving for in the midst of their re-tooling.

Burke has improved his goaltending and assembled one of the Eastern Conference's deepest blue-line corps, but there's a scarcity of offense up front.

Burke first tried to acquire Kessel at the NHL draft in Montreal in June but the deal, involving Toronto defenseman Tomas Kaberle, fell through.

Because the Bruins signed free-agent puck-moving defenseman Derek Morris in the offseason they no longer covet Kaberle.

Pierre LeBrun covers the NHL for ESPN.com.