Toronto Maple Leafs: Understanding the Phil Kessel Deal with the Boston Bruins

Trevor SchaumpContributor IIIJune 9, 2011

TORONTO - NOVEMBER 2: Phil Kessel #81 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates off after a loss to the Ottawa Senators during NHL action at the Air Canada Centre November 2, 2010 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
Abelimages/Getty Images

Let's take a look back and understand this trade once and for all.

In many hockey chat forums, this deal has been the ammunition for the average Leaf hater and Boston Bruin fan alike. The main focus for this debate seems to be who is better? Phil Kessel or Tyler Seguin?

This is very debatable alone, and the answer has not been established one way or the other...yet. But there is more to it than looking at these two players alone in comparison.

Seguin is a 19-year old rookie. He possesses a great release on his shot, good size and speed.

He'll be a power forward someday soon and is obviously a legitimate candidate for a future first-line center role in Boston or in the league. But not necessarily. He could be. But he could also wind up being a 65-point per season player who plays on the second line.

So, would the Leafs have drafted or been able to draft Seguin had we not had Kessel in our lineup before that draft? I doubt it.

There are too many factors involved to know that for sure. This makes comparing the two players even more futile. Looking at Kessel, we can be proud to say we have a 23-year old sniper with three 30-goal seasons to his credit already. 

Who else in the league can say that, with a $5.4 million-dollar cap hit or less per season? The list is very, very short! He is certainly not a flop for the Leafs and, considering they don't have the playmaking center to assist him in his tallies, it is unknown what his potential truly is yet, but it doesn't look so bad. 

After the Tomas Kaberle deal with Boston, this never-ending debate hushed up in a hurry until Seguin had the game of his career with a two-goal, four-point performance in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The very next day, "thank you Kessel" was the catch phrase for most Bruin fans once again, which breathed new life into the Kessel deal debate. Seguin has not done much since, but will fill in for the injured Nathan Horton for the remainder of the Stanley Cup Final. 

Here's the truth. The Kessel trade is not as easy as just looking at the parts that went each way. The assets that Boston received for Kessel allowed them to make their three most significant trades in the past year.

Having the second-round draft pick allowed them to trade their first-round draft pick in a package for Horton, who, until his recent injury, scored some pretty big goals for the Bruins in their quest for the Cup.

Having drafted Seguin made Joe Colborne expendable and with Toronto's first-round pick, it allowed them to move that as well for Kaberle. Having picked up an early second-round pick last year and having an early first-rounder this year, Boston was able to overpay for Chris Kelly who has been very effective for them during the playoffs as well.

Looking at it from that perspective, I would have to say they clearly "won" the Kessel deal.

Wouldn't you? 

Overall, it really isn't that bad for the Leafs. Sure, they didn't do as well as Burke anticipated. He did give up more than he had likely wanted to for Kessel, but he is still young and could easily develop into a 40 or even a 50-goal player in the next few seasons. A rare gem in the league.

If and when that happens, it suddenly becomes much more difficult to argue that Seguin will be better than Kessel is already. 

As far as the Kaberle deal goes, this is a win for the Leafs, considering he wasn't coming back anyway. 

You must look at things from both teams' perspectives.


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