More on the Phil Kessel Maple Leafs Bruins Trade

In case you missed the press conference here it is:

Here is the round-up:

From the Dallas Morning News Dallas Stars Blog:

“Wow, Brian Burke is not afraid of the big deal, is he?

He’s also pretty sure the Maple Leafs are going to be good in the next couple of seasons.

OK, two first-rounders and a second. That would be Nazem Kadri, Luke Schenn and let’s say Jimmy Hayes, under the old administration. Burke probably figures these picks will be in the 20s.

Plus you sign Kessel to a five-year deal for $27 million.


I know Kessel is only 21 and is coming off a 36 goal season, but that’s a lot to give up for one guy. Burke better hope he’s the real deal and that he’s not injury prone (he’s currently out until November with a shoulder problem).”

Nothing unfair about that assessment. Plain vanilla.

From Howie Berger:

“Time will tell whether the Maple Leafs acquired a playoff catalyst yesterday, or if the dismissal of two first-round draft picks in the cap-conscious NHL proves detrimental to the hockey club. My gut-instinct was for GM Brian Burke to go the conservative route and retain his top selections; wondering, additionally, whether Phil Kessel can put up big scoring numbers in the absence of a prolific set-up man such as Marc Savard. To ordain this deal an impetuous blunder, however, would be contradictory on my part, for it’s the “gambler” in Burke that convinced me he’d be the perfect antidote to decades of frugality and restraint with the Blue & White. In that regard, the signature acquisition of Kessel from the Bruins falls right in line with Burke’s modus operandi.”

Major kiss ass time for Berger who has written 2 consecutive blogs about why trading for Kessel would be a mistake.

From Kevin Allen:

“The re-structuring of the Maple Leafs isn’t going to happen over night, but Burke is making moves as if he expects it to happen next season. With the transactions he has made this summer, it seems as if he has at least made the Leafs a playoff team. Right now I would project them in the fourth through sixth spot in the Eastern Conference.
Some fans believe Burke over-paid with two first-round pick and a second to the Bruins and $27 million over five years to Kesse. But it could turn out he landed a bargain if Kessel starts to consistently score 35+ goals per season. He scored 36 last season and he’s only 21. He has the potential to be a 50-goal scorer. He looks like a player on the way to stardom.
Let’s not forget that Kessel was the fifth overall pick in the talent-rich 2006 draft.
My belief is that the Maple Leafs will be picking in the second half of the first round over the next two seasons, and you don’t usually find jet-quick scorers like Kessel at that point in the draft. But what should please Toronto fans is the forceful way Burke went about securing Kessel. He went public with his desire for Kessel and he put the steps in place necessary to accomplish that mission, including re-acquiring his second-round pick from to Chicago to let the Bruins know he intended to give Kessel an offer-sheet if the Bruins didn’t trade Kessel to him. He set-up the marketplace to the point that he became Boston’s best trade option.
A Maple Leafs general manager probably hasn’t acted with this much bully power since Conn Smythe was running the franchise decades ago.”

For all the fear of this move imploding, it’s nice to see this type of consensus from those who know the game. Unlike others that have been in the GM chair for the Maple Leafs before selling and no one was buying, it seems that many people smarter than I are buying what Burke is selling. The risk in this deal is quite simple. If the Leafs are a lottery team this year it’s a bad move. If they finish as Allen predicts above, it’s a good move.

From the Boston Globe:

“Let me be perfectly clear,” Chiarelli said. “This trade is really about two things. One, it’s about a player who did not want to play in Boston. Two, it’s about the threat or the perceived threat of an offer sheet.”

So the PR spin begins. The Bruins are on damage control as for right now they are the ones who dealt the named player. In tough economic times, it’s hard to sell tickets with stories like this out there. How do you best sell it? Make the player the villain.

“We want players that want to be here,” Chiarelli said. “I know that this player is a good player. Obviously he is. He can skate. He can shoot the puck. But we want players that want to be here. We want to grow the team with these types of players. I know the history here, but this isn’t about frugality. There were some significant [contract] offers made. There was little or no attempt to negotiate from the other side, which I think is for a reason, which is the reason I explained earlier.”

The Bruins have always had the cheap tag applied to them. Chiarelli is trying his best to dispel that label. Kessel however clearly didn’t want to return to Boston. Word is he didn’t love playing for Claude “harold ballard” Julien.

“”There wasn’t a team, but for one, that was willing to make a firm offer and willing to pay the player the amount of money he was requesting,” Chiarelli said. One of the biggest reasons why Kessel wanted out of Boston was his prickly relationship with Claude Julien. The coach practiced tough love with Kessel, benching him against Montreal in the first round of the 2007-08 playoffs. At times, Julien was critical of Kessel’s soft play and reluctance to stick to the defense-first system. However, under Julien’s whip, Kessel responded with a 36-goal season last year. “He had his best season under this coach. Enough said on that,” Chiarelli said. “We stress defense first. We stress competitiveness. Having said all that, what were we, first or second in the league in goals scored? And he had 36, 37 goals? Got him a nice raise.”

Do you get the sense that Chiarelli is pissed?

“Had the trade not been completed and Toronto signed Kessel to a five-year, $27 million offer sheet, Chiarelli said he wasn’t sure whether he would have matched. It is unlikely that the Bruins would have matched, considering Kessel’s desire to leave and the multiple moves required to clear cap space. Chiarelli said the Bruins could have placed Kessel on long-term injured reserve, but they would have had to clear space when he was ready to play.”

Now that hurts. Burke could have gotten Kessel for just a 1st, 2nd and 3rd round pick??? I’m kidding. Look, Burke couldn’t just make the offer. First, he wanted the player and there was no guarantee he gets the player. Secondly, I am firmly convinced that given his reaction to having the offer sheet pulled on him, he knew he would look like an ass for doing the same thing to someone else. Instead what he did was work with an agent and player and put the screws to another team. The Bruins had no real choice.

Boston Herald:

“Toronto longed seemed his likely destination. Kessel now has the privilege of playing in a city where hockey is more a passionate religion than mere sport; with fans presuming he’ll be an automatic 50-goal-scoring savior and anything less will be seen as failure; for a coach, Ron Wilson, who can be mean, sarcastic and nasty; and a GM, Burke, who can be as intimidating as anyone in the league. Good luck, Phil. You may be in for an unpleasant surprise or two. Kessel got a heck of a deal financially. But it seems obvious what would have been the best outcome for him: Take the offer from the B’s and stay right where he was. It’s unfortunate that won’t happen, maybe for Kessel most of all.”

I am surprised there weren’t more comments like that by Stephen Harris. I mean Kessel flat out rejected Boston. Many a scribes blast the players when they bolt a town, or force a move out of town. Even though reporters aren’t supposed to be “fans” they too tend to play that role when things like this happen.


“Except here’s the thing about the future: No one ever knows.

If Burke held on to every single first- or second-round draft pick for the next five years, there are no guarantees he would find anything remotely approaching a Crosby or an Ovechkin — or a Kessel.

Because as much as those three draft picks have some sort of value moving forward for the Bruins and Boston GM Peter Chiarelli, they pale in comparison with Kessel because Kessel is that wildly attractive asset: He is known and he is also the future.

Burke didn’t mortgage the future to acquire an aging veteran, something Leafs fans have become intimately familiar with through the years; he swapped an unknown future for a player who will turn 22 at the start of this season and is coming off a 36-goal campaign.

Kessel, the No. 5 pick in 2006, added six postseason goals in 11 games for the Bruins this spring. And based on the need to repair a torn labrum and rotator cuff, it seems he was playing in some pain and still producing.”

Easy to say it again, if the Leafs make the playoffs and these picks are late first round picks, it’s a great deal. If they turn out to be lottery picks………

“We had a chance to chat with a respected NHL executive this week, and the Kessel situation came up. When it was suggested it looked as if the Leafs were preparing to sell the farm, the executive shook his head.

First, this executive loves Kessel and figures he is one of the most dangerous players in the NHL in the most difficult places on the ice — in close to the net. He also pointed out that if Burke has five years left on his deal in Toronto, the chances of any of those draft picks having an impact on the Leafs in that time frame was minimal. So what is the risk for Burke?”

That’s so true. Burke has man years left on his contract with the Leafs. None of those picks will be impact players when that deal is up. With the term and money remaining the Leafs are stuck with him at least for a couple more years.

“We had a chance to chat with Kessel in Chicago at the U.S. Olympic orientation camp last month and found him surprisingly effusive and congenial. Does that mean he’ll thrive in Toronto? No. But it means he is a young man who is developing his own personality off the ice, as well as establishing an impressive game on the ice.”

This seems to be the common theme. That the kid who was described as being aloof and immature may actually be growing up. I mean he is only 22. What the hell are people thinking. Not every 21 year old is a grown man. Kids are kids and they need time to mature.

I am sure there will be dialogue in the coming days…

I watched the third period and overtime in tonight’s game. Most impressive player to me was Francois Beauchemin. I also felt like the intensity for this game was much higher than for your traditional exhibition game. The people I was watching with went nuts when they Leafs scored both the tying goal and then the winner in the overtime.



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