There's a Light at the End of the Tunnel in Toronto

Kyle HollandCorrespondent ISeptember 19, 2009

BOSTON - MAY 10: Phil Kessel #81of the Boston Bruins celebrates his goal against the Carolina Hurricanes during Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinal Round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 10, 2009 at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Phil Kessel is no longer a Bruin, and he is probably the most significant talent they have had leave either free agency or trade since Joe Thornton. The Bruins overcame the loss of Thornton after two seasons to reach the playoffs again and last season they won the Eastern Conference with most points, falling only one point behind San Jose for the Presidents trophy for most points in the NHL.

Sure a lot of that had to do with under rated center Marc Savard, who some how managed to not get an invite to Canada's training camp this past August after having 263 assists and 359 points since the lockout.

As well as team captain, reigning Norris trophy winner, and hardest shot, Zdeno Chara and reigning William Jennings and Vezina trophy winner Tim Thomas.

But Kessel had a major impact as well with his team leading 36 goals. Those goals however shouldn't be missed with Bergeron and Krejci getting betterand Wheeler getting more ice time from the departure of Kessel.

As well Boston will be getting 20 sure goal scorer Marco Sturm back into the lineup after a season-ending injury and  Recchi and Kobasew will pick up the rest. So those 36 goals won't be hard to replace.

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Even without Kessel, the Bruins are a lock to be Northwest division champs and will still be cup contenders. This contract dispute is the third good thing to happen to the Leafs and their fans in some time (first and second being Burke and Wilson, who'll make that team competitive no matter what).

While the Leafs have given the Bruins a first and second draft picks in the upcoming draft and another first round pick in the 2011 draft, they didn't give away those picks for an aging veteran like in the past but for an established 21 year old coming off a 36 goal season.

There's no guarantee that the Leaf's would be able to draft a player of Kessel's ability or immediate impact but there's a very high possibility that they wouldn't.

With a coach like Ron Wilson, who squeezes everything from his players, and a GM like Burke, the Leafs would never get a draft pick again in the top 10 in the next five years before Burke's contract will end. No player they would've drafted would have immediate impact for the team so the Leafs high price for Kessel won't diminish their future.

Right now, Kessel boasts Toronto's chances of making the playoffs this year. Even though the Leafs won't see him til sometime in November, Kessel who scored six goals in 11 games in the playoffs, just had off season surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff and labrum. He was still producing while playing hurt. Toronto is need of a player who can do that.

There's a small chance Kessel won't score over 30 goals next year while missing about a quarter to one-third of the season, along with having no obvious number one center on team, especially a center with the ability of Marc Savard or David Krejci.

Kessel is a player who scores his goals up close in front of the net and has the skills to score goals on his own. Even without a center like those in Boston, he'll have no problem continuing his goal production.

If Jason Allison has put his injuries behind him, and makes team, while not having much rust from not playing in the NHL after two years, that gives Kessel a prominent playmaker.

The Leafs are another dynamic scorer away from being a cup threat if rookie goalie Gustavsson meets expectations. As Kessel, under Wilson's watch, can transform into a two way play center. He started his career playing center and could be the Leafs first line center, instead of right wing.

Hitchcock molded Rick Nash, who had similar style of play as Kessel when he first came to the NHL, into an elite complete player after two years. There's no reason to believe that Wilson can't do the same with Kessel.

Hopefully the Leafs can rid themselves of some contracts such as Jeff Finger to free up space to add pieces to their puzzle. If anyone can find a way to rid a team an over paid defense men like Finger, Burke is the man to do it.

While Toronto won't be seeing their cup drought end this year, Leaf fans do have the pleasure of having realistic hopes in the next five years with Kessel joining the core of Schenn, Gustavsson, Komisarek, and Beauchamin.

For once, the future doesn't look dim in Toronto and a trip to the Playoffs may be in their future this season, and maybe in five years the Leafs will win another cup, letting man elderly men die happy in Toronto to see them win a cup again since 1967 and 42 years and counting of new fans to see it for the first time.