Written by Brandon Logan
It seems like yesterday when the Phil Kessel blockbuster was announced. Brian Burke, the new Leafs GM, had just pushed the Leafs from an average Eastern Conference dweller, to a playoff team, or that’s what we all thought.
Discussion about Phil Kessel’s duty had been raging since the draft. First the rumours were Kessel for Kaberle, then Kaberle and a first rounder, and soon it was an offer sheet. Finally a trade was finalized between Brian Burke and Boston GM, Peter Chiarelli. Phil Kessel was now a Leaf, but for a steep price. The Leafs would send Boston their first and second round picks in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft and another first rounder in 2011.
Looking back on that trade, I was absolutely thrilled, as was the majority of Leafs Nation. Fast-forward a year, and we now see some doubt. With the NHL Lottery just concluding this week, the Boston Bruins are set to pick second overall. The two likely candidates for that pick are Windsor Spitfire, Taylor Hall, or Plymouth Whaler, Tyler Seguin.
As we speak, Phil Kessel has collected his second thirty-goal season. The winner of this deal will be known based on the careers of Phil Kessel and this second overall pick. If Kessel can become the forty or fifty goal scorer that Leaf fans expect from him, then this deal is a great success. On the other hand, if Boston selects a point-per-game forward, who happens to outdo Kessel, than this deal is easily won by the Bruins.
As Brian Burke said on Leafs Lunch recently, “I would do the Phil Kessel trade again right now,” and I agree with Burke.
Phil Kessel is a young sniper, something the Leafs have been missing for a decade. Excluding Mats Sundin, Kessel is the first Leaf to score thirty goals in a season since Alexander Mogilny suited up in the blue and white.
Yes I would love to be drafting second overall and owning those two other draft picks, but that is the past. We must move forward with this Leafs team. Phil Kessel has Rocket Richard winning potential, and with a playmaking centre, he will become a natural forty goal scorer.
One side of Phil Kessel that is often forgotten is his playoff performances. Over his two post-season visits with the Boston Bruins, Kessel recorded a point-per-game. He has all the potential to become one of the best forwards in the game, and I am sure we will see that in the upcoming years. Remember, he is only twenty-two years old, and although he is our best forward, he is still developing.
I may be a minority, but I am still a fan of the Phil Kessel blockbuster. Three years down the road when these other prospects have developed, that is the time to decide a winner for this deal. Until then Leafs Nation, enjoy the hockey.