The Kessel Trade – 3 Months Later
Alright. It has been just about 3 months since one of the biggest blockbusters of the off-season went down. After a few weeks of rumors, Burke finalized a trade which acquired a young, goal scoring phenom and signed him long term. Oh yeah, and he gave up a 2010 1st, 2nd, and 2011 1st. It is a steep, steep price, and with Kessel being injured for the first month of the season, and the Leafs having a horrendous 0-7-1 start to the season, Leaf fans were not happy about the deal.
Once he came back, everyone calmed down a bit. He turned the Leafs into a respectable team, lately they have been good, but only lately. He has made the players around him better, gave the team a new face, and often gets a big goal to turn the pace of the game. With 13 goals in 22 games, Kessel has very few doubters. I dont think he is captain material, but he is the back bone of the team right now. For instance, Matt Stajan broke the 50 point plateau for the first time last season. He has significant minutes because of the departure of Sundin, and was often played with Ponikarovsky and Antropov. I thought that was Stajan’s career year. Since playing with Kessel, Stajan has 22 points in 20 games. (Kessel played two with Mitchell) If Stajan is able to get 65-70 points this year, which is not out of the question, than the one person he can thank is #81. Kessel has come into hockey crazed Toronto, met, and in many cases exceeded all expectations. The biggest question is, what will those picks be?
The Leafs are in a large group of teams in the 30-35 point range. They have been one of the better teams in this group lately and could pull out of the pack if they could ever put a streak together longer than 2 games. Or they could lose a bunch of games and fall back with Carolina. The goal-tending has been respectable lately, not good, but Toskala hasnt lost any games for them. That said, he is still prone to melt downs.
So if the Leafs manage to get to 10th place, giving Boston the 8th-12th pick roughly, then it would appear that the Leafs would win the Kessel trade. If Boston gets a lottery pick, then, in my opinion, Boston would win the trade. Of course none of this will be for certain until whoever Boston picks develops.
A few discussion questions for the board. How high would the Leafs pick have to be for you to consider this trade a loss for Toronto? Are the Leafs a bad team that is hot, or a good team that took a while to come together?