Theories Abound In Toronto, Is Phil Kessel Soon To Be a Leaf ?
It doesn't really sound like much, the Toronto Maple Leafs re-acquire their own 2010 2nd round draft pick from Chicago in return for Calgary's 2011 2nd round pick and Toronto's own 2011 3rd round pick. This deal however is the "deal that launched a 1,000 theories"
The Hockey blogosphere is abuzz with how, through this rather benign seeming move, Brian Burke will acquire Phil Kessel from the Boston Bruins. You see in order to make an offer on a restricted free agent, which Mr. Kessel is, a team must hold the appropriate compensation, to wit their own 1st, 2nd and 3rd round picks in the upcoming draft.Toronto had dealt away their 2010 pick to Montreal, I believe in the Grabovski deal, and were therefore not able to make an offer on any s free agents
In one fell swoop Burke has opened the door to a world of endless possibilities for those who lust for the Leafs to possess the elusive "top 6 forward". Kessel is definitely a "top 6 forward" and Boston are in tight in negotiations, the Bruins are already some $2.8 million above the cap (numbers courtesy of nhlnumbers.com) without Phil in the fold plus there was the much discussed "Kessel for a 1st round pick" trade discussion leading up to the 2009 entry draft
So now Toronto has the goods to make an offer and the financial room to spend some dough on Kessel, the Leafs are currently roughly $3 million below the cap, but the question remains
Is Phil Kessel the right fit ?
Kessel had great success in Boston last year, scoring 36 goals and adding 11 points in 11 playoff games. Kessel is a tremendous skater with a big shot, tons of offensive skills and still almost a month shy of his 22nd birthday. On the downside Kessell is small, defensively challenged and out until December following shoulder surgery, also on the downside is that Toronto has no Marc Savard to give Kessell the kind of opportunities that he had last season.
Almost lost in these blog "conspiracy theories" are some other possibilities:
First Burke may simply have been looking to add another pick in what is shaping up as a deep 2010 draft (unlikely).
Secondly by giving himself the means to make an offer Burke may be turning up the heat on a possible trade for Kessel or another possibility is that Burke may be preparing to make an offer at another RFA such as Brandon Dubinsky or Drew Stafford as Greg Wyshinsky mentiones in his "Puck Daddy" blog
No matter how you slice it once again Burke has created a lot of press over what, on the surface at least, is a very small move.
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