Leafs' Kessel could play Tuesday against Tampa


The Maple Leafs could get a large offensive boost on Tuesday night.

Phil Kessel is almost done recovering from shoulder surgery and could make his Leafs debut against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Air Canada Centre.

“(There’s) a good chance of it, yeah,” Leafs coach Ron Wilson said on Thursday afternoon after the Leafs practised at a suburban Buffalo arena.

Kessel didn’t say much as he was hustled to the team bus by a Leafs staff member, but acknowledged he has been cleared for physical play in practice. As for suiting up versus Tampa, the 22-year-old took a wait-and-see approach.

“It’s a few days away,” Kessel said. “I’ll see how it feels. I don’t know yet.”

The pressure on Kessel to produce will be enormous, and not only because the last-place Leafs are among the lowest-scoring teams in the NHL with 24 goals in 10 games.

Leafs general manager Brian Burke put much of his reputation on the line in September when he traded first-round picks in 2010 and 2011, as well as a second-rounder in 2010, to the Boston Bruins for Kessel.

Kessel scored 36 goals for the Bruins last year, benefitting greatly from playing with centre Marc Savard, and the Leafs simply don’t have a player as talented as Savard to get Kessel the puck.

Kessel had surgery in May to repair a torn rotator cuff and labrum in his left shoulder, delaying his Leafs debut.

Meanwhile, the Leafs, who are in Buffalo on Friday night to play the Sabres before finishing a five-game trip in Montreal on Saturday night, have recalled forward Jiri Tlusty from Toronto of the American Hockey League. Sent to the minors were rookie forward Viktor Stalberg, who has one assist in eight games, and goaltender Joey MacDonald.


128 Responses to Leafs' Kessel could play Tuesday against Tampa

  1. HABSSTAR says:

    At this point in the season probably not too much.  Maybe a 4th?  Depends on the amount of money you're taking off their hands.   As the end of the season approaches and RFA/UFA players still aren't resigned then you might see a better return.

  2. HABSSTAR says:

    Toronto is playing just well enough to lose.  They give off enough encouraging sings to keep people thinking they should be better.  I've seen a lot of Habs teams do exactly the same thing for years.  The problem is all they do is frustrate the hell out of you as a fan.

    The Leafs are just not cashing in on their chances and teams playing against them are not making the same mistakes.  They simply have not found a way to win.   

  3. HABSSTAR says:

    He looks like a shell of a goalie.  His confidence is completely shattered and you can see it by the way he plays deep in his net.

  4. sensnation says:

    All I am saying is that it is hard to take a Leafs fan seriously when he says that Toronto, who is worst, or among the worst three, in EVERY statictical category except for powerplay, is not among the three worst team in the league.  Especially when the only thing you are going on is how they are playing.

  5. bbruins37 says:

    i know you said you werent going by points but i dont see anyway you can put colorado in the bottom 3. theyve got great production and play from their big guns (stastny, wolski, hejduk) and on top of that have had duchene playing very well, and seem to have found an absolute steal in o'reilley.
    even if you want to say theyre only doing well because of anderson, the point is a goalie is still part of the team. thats a reason why i wouldnt have chicago up there top 3.

  6. bbruins37 says:

    theres no denying lou is one of the best gms but if you dont have holland at no. 1 youre insane. its obviously just your anti-wings bias

  7. mojo19 says:

    I thought he had an okay game, but that first goal was brutal. Take that goal out, and if he otherwise plays like he did, he will be okay for a backup and we can ride out this contract for the year. He's never been good in shootouts, so no surprise there.

  8. HABSSTAR says:

    What did you guys do to him?  He was an All-Star in Montreal… lol

    Seriously the guy hasn't been the same since Lucic took his balls from him last year.  It was all downhill from there. 

  9. reinjosh says:

    i would disagree with that
    i dont think 30 plus is out of the question
    he only played 70 games last year and got 36
    and kaberle is the perfect player to play with him
    it gives kessel time to develop his own scoring side (without help) plus he still has kaberle feeding him pucks to keep him happy
    its not to much to expect 30 – 35 goals even with him coming back from an injury

  10. reinjosh says:

    he never said that holland wasnt
    he just said lou was one of the best in the game
    lafleur just responded like that because he had nothing to prove cam wrong
    another one fo your selective stupid statements

  11. reinjosh says:

    you seen a single leafs game this season
    stats are not even close to showing how they are playing

  12. mojo19 says:

    if you want something to go by:

    Burke gota  4th rounder off Tampa last year for taking about $400k in salary, but slightly different situation cuz it wasn't for cap space, it was to save them some of their losses.

  13. HABSSTAR says:

    Well everyone's entitled to their views. 
    I just think last year's Boston team was far superior to this year's Toronto team.  Boston had multiple players you had to concentrate on. 

    Toronto will have one forward and one D-man you'll have to really watch. It just makes it easier for teams to key their best defensive players on him all night. 

  14. leafshockey says:

    Haha Ya I loved that too haha Oh and did I see something that hasn't ever happened before?? Did the leafs actually catch a break on Kaberles goal?? What?? Never mind that almost every one of Montreals goals was like that, but the leafs actually caught a bounce! I don't beleive it.

  15. leafy says:

    My thoughts exactly. I really think the aftermath of the hernia surgery is still affecting him.  People have forgotten that this guy was pretty good two years ago.

  16. leafy says:

    I knew that part would be controversial…and that's why I threw it in.  But believe you me, if check out their play, they are always on their heels.

    I predict Colorado will slowly fade as the season progresses.  Anderson right now is MVP. Seriously.

  17. DannyLeafs says:

    People really love to hate the leafs, including many leafs fans. That's where a lot of the so called controversy about Kessel being "worth it" comes from. He didn't dominate college hockey and US under 18 and get drafted 5th overall because Marc Savard was passing him the puck. He didn't earn a spot on the team as an 18 year old, and a spot on the top line in his third season because he had no skill. He didn't bounce back after having to have cancer treatment as a 19 year old and score 36 goals in the nhl because he has no heart. They make it seem like Boston couldn't wait to get rid of him, but the fact is that the only reason that Boston even considered moving him was cap space. He was unsigned, and there were rumors of the cap shrinking in the next couple of years. The only reason he is a maple leaf is because Chiarelli thought he as being offered Thomas Kaberle, and the 7th overall pick in what was considered one of the deepest drafts in NHL history. That would have been a huge return for any unsigned RFA. When that deal fell through, Chiarelli had no intentions of moving Kessel, but Kessel was understandably upset at the fact that after everything he has done, that they would just move him so quickly. That is the only reason there was an opportunity at the end of the summer to get the deal done, if they didn't attempt to move him at the draft, Kessel would still be a bruin.

  18. DannyLeafs says:

    An offer sheet would have cost the leafs more in the long run. It is so hard to negotiate a good offer sheet, you have to not only take into account what you want to pay, and what the player is willing to accept, but then you have to consider what amount you are willing to pay, that the other team isn't. Realistically, you only get one shot. You are inevitably going to either end up over paying the player and giving up quality draft picks, or working out a sold deal that works for both parties, only to have the other team match it and have nothing to show for your efforts. Boston would have matched any reasonable amount the leafs offered Kessel, they may have been somewhat tight against the cap, but since he was going on LTIR at the beginning of the season, it wasn't an immediate concern.

  19. DannyLeafs says:

    If the leafs had gone the offer sheet route, chances they would have ended up giving him much more than 5.4 million a season in order to make sure Boston didn't match the deal.

  20. zackman13 says:

    well the pp is third in the league, so i guess he has too make it 1st or second? the pp is doing great, its the pk that needs work and i think he might be able to help that because of his footspeed, and wilson can teach him good solid defensive zone play and maybe in a few years he'll be a good two way player. just my thoughts.

  21. zackman13 says:

    why give up assets for nylander who is a realluy bad contract, when we can sign foppa for nothing but cash? hed play great with kessel, and who better to pass the puck to kessel than one of the best passers available. thoughts?

  22. cam7777 says:

    the stats will even out as the season rolls along.  this is a middle of the pack team that should be 500 or closer.  everything that could have gone wrong, has gone wrong thus far, and as a result, they've found ways to lose despite outplaying most of their opponents (in some cases, badly outplaying them).

    i'm pretty confident the team will have a solid november, and be in about 22nd-24th place by the time december rolls around.  from there, they will struggle to move into the middle third of the league, but eventually crack it, finishing the season 17th-20th out of 30. 

    honestly, leafy is the most negative leaf fan on the board right now.  the leafs have not been deserving of their fate thus far.  i know they say that good teams find a way to win, and vice-versa, but if you watch this team, you will seriously just be in shock at how terribly, horribly unlucky they have been.  and also, it's so hard to use those stats as a guide when the goaltending has been directly responsible for all of it.

  23. mojo19 says:

    Also, it may have been the french accents, but the Habs fans mistakenly chanted "VISA – VISA – VISA …" etc. Unknowing that his name is actually "VESA"


  24. mojo19 says:

    Kaberle is worth way more than a 1st and Mueller, although Phoenix's pick could be a lottery pick.

    Finger and Stefanovich might even be too much for Brian Campbell. That's a lot of salary to take on to be giving up one of your top prospects.

    Grabs and Kulie for Horton seems fair though.

    Also…. waive Wallin over Primeau? I don't think so. Sorry Luke, I don't think these moves are the best for the Leafs.

  25. bbruins37 says:

    "Lou Lamiorello – best GM in the league"

    nice try though

  26. bbruins37 says:

    oh theres no question hes mvp right now. if the season were to end today it would go 1. anderson 2. miller 3. ovechkin (but obviously ovechkin would win it because everyone loves him.

    however, i dont think you can say they arent that good just because one player is doing it for them. i mean if you go by that then you can argue washington isnt that good becasue they rely so heavily on ovechkin

  27. leafy says:

    Fair enough, but watch Colorado closely. They are not a very good team and will fade. God knows I've got nothing against Colorado.

  28. bbruins37 says:

    oh im not accusing you of having it out for the avs. and i wouldnt disagree that i think theyll fade down the strech too (i dont think anderson can play like hes patrick roy for the rest of the season). all im saying is that for october, i dont think you can consider them a bottom 3 team. anderson played them into the best record. that is done. if you want to say you think theyre bottom 3 for the rest of the season, thats fine, although id disagree with that as they do have some other things going for them outside of anderson.

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