Toronto Maple Leafs: Will Phil Kessel Be the Best Trade Ever?

Jamie ThainContributor IIIOctober 17, 2011

Phil Kessel working thorough Traffic
Phil Kessel working thorough TrafficJana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images

Brian Burke was right, it was hard but it was worth it. 

Burke has taken lots of heat over the Phil Kessel trade. 

When Burke traded for Phil Kessel, no one in Leafs Nation would have thought we would spend the next year in the basement. But then January 2010 came along. 

In retrospect though, a trade has to be weighed on what we received. What we gave up was based all on future risk. The Bruins were hoping the Leafs would continue to be an NHL bottom feeder and to the Leafs it was not relevant. Teams can not play for who you might draft. They can not intend to lose. 

Follow the logic here. Phil Kessel was not traded for Tyler Seguin on the day Brian Burke traded for Phil Kessel. It was just "an unnamed draft pick." 

In January 2010, the Leafs went 2-12. Any reasonable outcome and they might have finished 22nd or 23rd overall, not 28th. 

The sixth pick overall that year was Brett Connolly. An excellent prospect that any club would be pleased to have in their system. He is not Phil Kessel. 

In fact is that in the 2010 draft, only three of the top 10 picks are playing in the NHL. Taylor Hall (first), Tyler Seguin (second) and Jeff Skinner (seventh). All the rest of them are prospects that will probably break into the NHL—someday soon.  

The 2011 first round pick by Boston was Dougie Hamilton, a big strong defenseman with the Niagara Ice Dogs. He scored 58 points in the OHL last year.

We would want him but he is not Phil Kessel. 

Seguin and Hamilton for Kessel—let's hope the Leafs do it every time every day. If we had finished in any place but second to last, this might have become such a one sided deal that Brian Burke would be hailed a deal wizard. And Boston would never trade with him again.

Go look through the 2010 and 2011 top 10 and try to find two of these picks that you would take over one Phil Kessel. Sure the two number one picks, try again. We received a great deal. 

Now lets talk about Phil Kessel since the deal. He has had two 30 goal seasons and has been doing it while really training Tyler Bozak to be an NHL grade center.

This year might be a break out year for Phil. For most of the guys in the NHL having a 30 plus goal season would be considered great. Phil last year was in the top 20 goal scorers in the league. He finished higher than any of the picks from either 2009 or 2010 drafts. 

Everyone can see that Phil Kessel also has the capability of being a 40 or 50 goal scorer. And he also draws a fair amount of heat off of the MacRussian line. 

Because of the fire Phil draws and his ability to still produce, he adds a great deal of balance of the team. He is able to play through and around the top lines in the NHL. The opposing coaches have to decide to put their best against Phil Kessel and his line or the MacRussian line. 

Tyler Bozak also seems much more comfortable this year in the job of centering Kessel. The job is to draw players and give Phil skating space. Be ready to bang in rebounds as Kessel is going to shoot. 

Tyler Bozak working with Phil
Tyler Bozak working with PhilJana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images

The last thing is Kessel is not a media hound. He seems a bit shy and looks like a bit of why would anyone want his opinion or his thoughts on his hockey. But maybe that is a great way for a superstar to be, enjoying his play rather than his fame. 

The great Mats Sundin only broke 40 goals twice with the Leafs. The great Doug Gilmour never broke 40 goals. Gilmour only achieved 30 goals twice. Dougie was a passer leading the league in Assists. 

So Phil Kessel is a quality scorer who is now 23 years old and we got him for essentially for 3 draft picks and signing his contract.

We need to cheer Phil and give Brian credit. 

Brian Burke said of the original deal, "It's taken a long time, it's taken a lot of effort, but I think it's worth it," from the team's press release.

So do we. So do we.