The NHL Season is quickly approaching, with that in mind we’re going to take a look at who is (likely) to be on the Leafs roster come October 1 in Montreal. Contract numbers via CapGeek.com; Regular Stats via Hockey-reference.com; Nerd stats via behindthenet.ca. For the rest of our Player Previews go here.
Phil Kessel, No. 81, right winger | 6â€™0â€³, 202 LBS | 25-years old.
ToTÂ Approved Nicknames:
Phil The Thrill
7 NHL seasons, 4 with Toronto, 504 career games
$5.4-million for 2013-14; UFA following season
504 GP 185 Goals 194 Assists 379 Points
48 GP 20 Goals 32 Assists 52 Points
CorsiÂ On-ice -8.54; PDO: 1018
You Oughta Know:
Despite the so-calledÂ â€œchemistryâ€ between super best friends Phil Kessel and Tyler BozakÂ that led to the latterâ€™s insane extension, Bozak assisted on just 5 of Kesselâ€™s 20 goals last season.
Despite only one playoff appearance in his 4 seasons as a Leaf, Phil Kesselâ€™s time in Toronto thus farÂ has beenÂ nothing but a success. Kessel has scored at least .39 goals per game all 4 seasons he has been in Toronto, a feat that has only been accomplished in 4 separate seasons 13 times in the history of the Maple Leafs franchise. The fact that Kessel has been able to do this despite being centred by the generally ineffective Tyler Bozak makes the feat even more impressive.
The trade to bring Kessel into Toronto has been much derided; the Leafs gave up two first round draft picks, which turned into Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton. While Seguin may still blossom into the star that everyone has expected him to be, and Hamilton may turn out to beÂ a mainstay on an NHL blueline, the Leafs have received 4 years of eliteÂ production out of Phil Kessel on a pretty reasonable contract. If Kessel continues his eliteÂ play into this coming season, the price paid by the Leafs for 5-years of elite level production from one of the games young stars seems downright fair.
What to Expect:
Kessel has been exceptionally consistent for the Leafs in his first 4 years in the Blue & White. You can pretty much slot him in for 30-35 goals for the upcoming season. 2012/2013 saw a spike in Kesselâ€™s assist rate which could come back down towards his career average, although at just 25 years of age, he is entering the prime of a typical playerâ€™s career.
Kessel has the motivationÂ of playing in a contract year, but will still be put on a line with Tyler Bozak, so that probably evensÂ out. Despite his awful cap management, Dave NonisÂ has put together the most talented Leafs roster in Kesselâ€™s tenure, but thatâ€™s not really saying much to be honest. I think itâ€™s safe to write Kessel in for around 34 goals and 48 assists for 82 points, to put him in line for an 8-year contract paying him all of the money (seriously though, whatâ€™s Kessel going to get $8-million? I mean Joe frickinâ€™ Pavelski got $6-million/year!)