October 29, 2010
"That's a trade you talk about five years from now when Tyler Seguin(notes) is a full-time NHL player. I don't think Tyler right now today is anywhere near as good as Phil. Phil scored 30 goals last year he's probably going to score 40 or 50 goals this year. We're happy with what we have right now for sure."
That's Ron Wilson of the Toronto Maple Leafs (via the Sun), attempting to ruin the unparalleled joy of hastily declaring a winner and loser in a trade that won't unofficially be "completed" until next summer's draft.
Phil Kessel(notes) is a Leaf because Brian Burke felt he was worth a first-round pick (Tyler Seguin) and a second-round pick (Jared Knight(notes)) last summer, a first-round pick next summer, and a 5-year, $27 million contract that's in its second season.
The only comparable asset in the trade now is Seguin, who scored a goal last night, heard team management tell the media he would remain in the NHL this season and had Boston Bruins fans "thanking" Kessel for him after his goal:
"I was on the bench and I was trying not to laugh. All the guys were kind of cracking up. It just shows the support of the fans."
"I could care less, to tell you the truth. ... It doesn't matter to me one bit."
Breathe deeply enough, and you might still be able to smell the lingering odor of that horse[bleep].
Kessel cares, because he can't use any of that $27 million to buy a goal against Boston. Brian Burke has also said he doesn't care, because "the best trades benefit both teams." (Wonder if Tom Kurvers for Scott Niedermayer(notes) passes the Burkian "best trade" threshold.)
The Boston media? Holy smokes do they care.
Joe Haggerty of CSNNE, under a headline that reads "Bruins look like big winners in Kessel trade," wrote last night:
The sarcastic gratitude for Phil the Thrill's escape to Toronto was an instant classic chant from a Bruins crowd hectoring someone who didn't want to be in Boston.
The sing-song chant also perfectly typified the "good riddance" feeling shared by most in the B's organization upon Kessel's exit before last season - a sentiment that's only hardened since the B's picked up Seguin with the second overall pick in the 2010 draft.
All the better that the Bruins are already reaping Seguin's offensive gifts so early into his career.
Meanwhile Kessel managed only a single shot on net during an invisible final two periods after squeezing off five shots in the first 20 minutes. Kessel essentially looked like he "quit," as David Krejci(notes) predicted he might just 24 hours earlier.
Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe writes that Seguin has the potential to be what Kessel could not be for the Bruins:
But The Kid is wise enough to know that his ice time will depend as much on his ability to play a two-way game as it will be on his ability to put the biscuit in the basket, as welcome a skill as that may be. It's no secret that one reason Phil Kessel wears a Toronto sweater nowadays is that he didn't quite fulfill Boston management's vision of the all-around player.
The Boston fans, beyond the chanting, are clearly relishing the fact that Kessel can't find his game against Boston. From a NESN poll:
There's no question the Bruins felt the sting of the Kessel trade last season, with his absence contributing to plummeting offensive fortunes after a bounty of goals in the previous season. The Nathan Horton(notes) trade this summer filling that absence and, in the process, allowed the Bruins to shed the diminishing returns of Dennis Wideman(notes), though he has five points in eight games with the Florida Panthers.
Meanwhile, the Bruins used a "Kessel pick" and drafted Seguin, who exhibits star qualities on and off the ice; and still have another first that can result in a blue-chipper or be used to acquire NHL ready talent.
If Kessel goes over 40 goals in at least two of the remaining four seasons, and continues that offense in his next contract, there's a chance this deal ends up win/win. And we've often said that if Kessel is an integral part of a Leafs' Stanley Cup victory, Seguin could turn into the second coming of Mark Messier and be overshadowed by that Miracle on Bay Street.
But rather than declare victory for the Bruins in the Kessel trade, let's simply agree on this: They don't miss him. At all.
Not in their lineup, not in their locker room. The fact he skates in every Leafs/Bruins game with a clenched sphincter and a clean score sheet reinforces every notion that he was expendable as a player, especially when seeking a king's ransom as a free agent.
Whatever Seguin becomes is icing on the Dunkin' Donut for Boston. The fact is that the Bruins are now, two years out, a better team without Phil Kessel.