Toronto Maple Leafs Trade Phil Kessel for a Bag of Pucks


Toronto Maple Leafs Trade Phil Kessel for a Bag of Pucks

I know: it’s the obvious joke, but there’s really no other way to understand yesterday’s blockbuster trade involving Phil Kessel.

Dec 18, 2014; Raleigh, NC, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel (81) looks on from the bench against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

We knew our beloved Toronto Maple Leafs were intent on trading the maladjusted winger, and we knew the Pittsburgh Penguins were desperate to add some scoring depth beside perennial but wasted all-star centreman Sidney Crosby. What we didn’t know, however, was how little the Leafs were asking for Kessel.

Given that Kessel has led Toronto in points every season since joining the team in 2009, and given his potential impact on an already impressive Pittsburgh squad, it was reasonable to expect a decent, if not significant, return for him. Instead, we’re left footing part of the bill for his services.

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Jonathan Toews and 2 other NHL free agents still available
Jonathan Toews and 2 other NHL free agents still available /

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  • In return for Kessel, the Leafs got prospects Scott Harrington, Kasperi Kapanen and Nick Spaling. They also acquired Pittsburgh’s first- and third-round picks in next year’s draft. Going the other way, the Leafs sent Kessel, prospect Tyler Biggs, defenceman Tim Erixon and a second-round pick in next year’s draft to Pittsburgh. In addition, the Leafs have retained part ($1.25 million) of Kessel’s annual $8-million salary until 2022.

    That sounds fair, no? No.

    Crosby’s already excited about the prospect of playing with Kessel, and I’m sure the Pittsburgh management team is excited by the swindle they just pulled on their colleagues in Toronto, but there’s little to excite us, the faithful. This is just another colossal letdown from a team that only seems capable of disappointing its fans.

    Nov 14, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel (81) gets by Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Paul Martin (7) during the second period at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

    There’s no denying that Kessel’s time in Toronto had run its course. From his immature attitude towards the coaching staff, media and fans (remember the salute snub? what role do you think Kessel played in that?) to last season’s disappearing act down the stretch, Kessel had burnt many bridges and found himself with little sympathy left in the world’s biggest hockey market. Anything short of a complete reversal of character and work ethic wouldn’t have been enough to repair the damage.

    Having said that, it still hurts to lose someone of Kessel’s caliber for such a meager return. The Leafs might be committed to another rebuilding exercise, but they’ll still need to score goals when the ticket gates open next season. Kessel was good for at least that. I’m not sure about the new guys they acquired.

    What do you think about the Kessel trade? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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