Phil Kessel was acquired last offseason by GM Brian Burke in a move that today looks to be setting the franchise back a few more years.
Acquired from the Bruins in exchange for two first-round picks in 2010 and 2011 and a second-round selection in the 2010 draft, Kessel was thought of as the savior for an organization that was in desperate need of some young talent coming their way.
Kessel so far in his Leaf career has been good, but not great—not two first-round picks sort of great.
He's a very good finisher who in fact is tied for the team lead in goals with 12 with Mikhail Grabovski, who has slowly turned into the Leafs' best forward after a period in which even I was ready to trade him for a bag of pucks.
Having lost out on Tyler Seguin already, and with the possibility that the Leafs finish nearly dead last and lose out on a top three pick, Phil Kessel may turn out to be one of the worst acquisitions in Leafs history, even passing the Tom Kurvers for Scott Niedermayer deal (actually was the third overall pick, but Scotty was picked at the third pick).
Kessel is currently on pace for around 30 goals this season. A decent total, but again, not at the level Leaf fans and experts had him pegged for. To make matters worse, he's also pretty terrible defensively and tends to play a more difficult game, carrying the puck through players rather than making the simple play.
To get out from No. 1, Kessel needs to go to the difficult areas, get those pucks, finish those chances and lastly, stop gripping the stick so tight and make the simple play. Quite often the best play made is the play you don't make, and it's one of those sentences that needs repeating with regard to Kessel.
Have a safe and happy holiday everyone.