Brian Burke's first summer with his new team saw him bulk up his defense and add depth to his goaltending.
Sure, he didn't do too much to address the need for top six forwards, but he vastly improved the team in other areas.
However, addressing the need for scoring help didn't go unnoticed; Burke attempted to fix that issue early on.
In what would have surely shook up their division, Toronto and Boston seemed set on having Kessel with Toronto and Kaberle with Boston. An issue regarding picks nixed that deal and Kaberle's no movement clause kicked back and ended that speculation.
Recently, Burke re-acquired a second round pick that was first dealt to Montreal for Grabovski. This gave him his first, second, and third round picks in this years draft, which just so happens to be the compensation for signing a player through offer sheets.
Up until camp, Burke and Boston's General Manager seemed to be playing cat and mouse. Boston said they would match any offer placed on Kessel, and Burke said offer sheets were not the direction they had in mind. Burke though, has had several discussions and said he refused to blindside them when it came to trades etc,.
Talks of a deal being made got hotter as Kessel's agent was spotted at Leafs camp recently.
The Maple Leafs still appear to be at the top of the heap for his services, amongst the handful of teams interested. Rumors state talks broke off between Boston and Kessel, and he's said to have interest in playing in Toronto; so it remains to be seen what will happen.
Kessel is coming off a season where he missed a fair amount of action, but still managed to tally 36 goals. He is also in the mix for team USA, which just so happens to involve both Burke and Ron Wilson. Kessel is a Burke type player; a scorer with a bit of grit and heart in his game.
Since the offer sheets aren't the direction Burke says he is going, the next thing would be to make a trade with Boston for Kessel.
Its been reported that Toronto has offered Boston two first round picks (one this year and next) and a second rounder for Kessel. Ideally, with cap issues, Boston wouldn't want to take on salary so picks is what they would prefer.
Are those picks too steep a price to pay for a player like Kessel who can't seem to manage to play a full season?
Although he is still a young forward, it would still go against what Toronto originally intended to do with the rebuilding process. Burke seems focused on the playoffs now, and isn't too worried about the rebuild, especially if he is willing to part with those picks.
That price is a little steep for me, although Kessel would be a better player to trade for, unlike what Toronto has done in the past. With Kessel out until the end of November, I think Toronto should wait on acquiring him and see what the market is like then.
Think of Toronto teams in the past when trading picks or prospects for players. Sure it pans out for a bit, with Toronto making regular appearances in the playoffs before the lockout, but never going all the way.
Then you look to now, and they're struggling to produce a good club because the cupboard is bare. Trading away those high picks still leaves you with an empty cupboard and a solution for right now, not the future.
Wait until he is closer to returning and if the interest is still there, place an offer sheet on him when Boston may have more trouble shedding salary to take him back. At least, then it won't be two first rounders and a second.
Plus, with the additions Burke made earlier in the year (signing Bozak and Hanson), and with players looking to bounce back or prove themselves (Tlusty and Allison), there may be quite a few surprises out of camp.
If that's the case, then a quick fix may not be needed, and maybe smart patchworks at the trade deadline could help lead Toronto into the playoffs. If everything that needs to pan out for the team does (goaltending, defense, penalty killing, strong play during training camp etc.) this team should be headed in the right direction.
With about roughly 62 players preparing in camp now, no spots are guaranteed so competition will be fierce. The only spots that seem to be mapped out already are the top four defensive corps, with Kaberle and Komisarek being the top pair.
The second pair are Schenn and Beauchemin, and the other spots on defense as well as the other areas on the ice, are all fair game which should make for an interesting season.
With all the talent at camp and all the players looking to prove themselves, Kessel appears to be the odd man out.
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