Toronto Maple Leafs: What Phil Kessel Being Selected Last Means for Them

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Toronto Maple Leafs: What Phil Kessel Being Selected Last Means for Them
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Nobody wanted to be the last pick in the 2011 NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft. Sure, you would be an All-Star and get all the attention you could ask for all weekend long, but you would also be the most embarrassed player sitting on the stage, even if that meant being given a free car and $20,000 to donate to a charity of your choice.

As it turns out, Toronto's Phil Kessel was the unlucky guy that was chosen last. It really wasn't that surprising, even considering players like David Backes and 34-year-old Patrik Elias went ahead of him.

Backes, 26, has 16 goals and 21 assists for a total of 37 points. That's three less, six more and three more than Kessel's totals of 19 goals, 15 assists and 34 points. Elias, on the other hand, has 13 goals and 24 assists for a total of 37 points in one less game than Backes and Kessel. Elias' totals are six less, nine more and three more than Kessel's totals.

So, does Kessel really care that much? Probably not.

Should he feel bad? Leafs fans should be hoping so.

Maybe this will be a wake up for Kessel, who is currently riding a seven-game losing streak. Known as one of the streakiest players in the entire league, Kessel's hot streaks seem to give his team a boost both offensively and defensively. With the Leafs sitting 14 points out of the playoffs and doing just two points better than they were at this point last season, his Leafs teammates could certainly use some help from him.

Perhaps the players most in need of some help from Kessel are line mates Joey Crabb and Tyler Bozak.

Crabb, who had a great start to his NHL seasoncoincidentally while Kessel was on a hot streakafter being called up from the Toronto Marlies of the AHL, has slowed down a lot. Bozak, who has been struggling all season long with just eight goals and 12 assists, could also benefit from a Kessel resurgence.

The line of Clarke MacArthur, Nikolai Kulemin and Mikhail Grabovski, which was also doing extremely well at the same point in time that Kessel was, has also slowed down somewhat, although they continue to be one of the Leafs' best lines. MacArthur and Grabovski have both gone three games without scoring a goal, while Kulemin has gone eight games without scoring and five games without registering a single point.

Perhaps the only player has who has not followed Kessel lately is captain Dion Phaneuf.

The 25-year-old has been under heavy criticism all season long for inconsistent play and lack of heart. However, over the last week or solikely in response to the Leafs' recent strugglesthat heart appears to be alive and strong again. There is no doubt Phaneuf's recent play is good for a team that sits 14 points out of a playoff spot with just 33 games remaining in the season.

So, what might Kessel being selected last in the NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft mean for the Maple Leafs? In an ideal worldand don't count this outit would mean that Kessel feels like he needs to pick up his game a little and begin to play well, which sparks other Maple Leafs players, eventually creating a domino effect.

However, it likely means absolutely nothing.

 

Follow me on Twitter @LukasHardonk for more Maple Leafs coverage, including rumours and game updates!

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With Mailbag, you can send your Maple Leafs or NHL-related questions to me on Twitter or through email at lukas@myteamrivals.com. All questions that I've received will be answered at the end of each one of my articles.

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Lukas also covers the Maple Leafs for Sports Haze, Hockey Independent and Inside Hockey. You can contact him at lukas@myteamrivals.com

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