All Phil Kessel


The drumbeats about a Phil Kessel trade were loud leading up to draft. Calgary? Pittsburgh?? In the end nothing happened and we waited. Things were quiet leading up to Free Agent day and then the bomb dropped. It’s been a while since we’ve gone round and round, but here is the Kessel wrap up:

I have to throw this in there as I found it stunning while listening to it live. David Naylor and Dave Feschuck were joined by Darren Dreger on TSN 1050 around 6:20 Monday night. Now, lets state some facts. It’s clear that leaks are few and far between with the Shanahan crew. Yes, DD does say numerous time that anything could happen, however as you will see, he throws a whole lot of cold water on Pittsburgh as a POSSIBLE destination:

TSN: where do things stand with TML and Phil Kessel?
DD: I think things are very quiet. Strong appetite to deal him. They are being very patient and methodical. A lot of people want to connect Phil Kessel to the Pittsburgh Penguins, I am not saying it will never happen however as we sit here tonight it seems unlikely and its not as hot as some would like it to be and as some have reported it to be and believed it to be. It’s never been that close. There are a lot of balls in the air here, a lot of pople need to be inovled. I checked with his agent about an hour ago and it’s very quiet and that all could change in a hurry. I think leafs feel that they need to be careful here, what if he has a level of pride and he comes back to the NHL and returns to pride and nets you 40+ what happens if that happens in Toronto and suddenly the rebuild maybe isn’t 5 years. If Kessel was in his 30’s I’d be singing a different tune. If he comes back ready to fly look out.

That was 620 on the eve before the trade!

Like I said above, yes, DD covered his a$$ by stating things could change, however he was definitive in saying that those who were suggesting a deal with Pittsburgh was close were wrong. The those that he was referring to were Nick Kypreos and Damien Cox. It was common knowledge that following the draft the Pittsburgh management team was huddling for several minutes talking about whether or not to make “The Kessel deal”. A Pens beat writer was on with Naylor after the draft and basically told TSN how close things were…

So that was before…

“Really, this was as much about illness and insomnia as anything else: The Leafs were sick and tired of Kessel.”

I had to try to grab a line from Steve Simmmons that hasn’t already been plastered all over the internet.

Haven’t read Simmons yet?????

This is the column that has earned him a place on ESPN:

From the ‘Wurst’ story on Kessel to the best….

Toronto won’t have Phil Kessel to kick around anymore, which means we might have to pitch in and get Dave Feschuk a ball or a can or Dion Phaneuf or something, since the annual target of his indignation is now a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

That By Greg Wyshynski / Puck Daddy it’s a must read on

Bruce Arthur took the lead at the Toronto Star with this story:

But a Kessel trade was never going to be a blockbuster, because by the time talks got serious, there was one bidder. Partly, it was the seven years left on Kessel’s deal at $8-million (U.S.) per year; his roll-out-of-bed-and-score-30-goals work ethic; his disastrous season last year; the Toronto mess. There were a small handful of teams who were interested. There was one who could, and would, get something done.

James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail didn’t waste any time in his piece:

Brendan Shanahan didn’t want Phil Kessel.

There’s really no other way to read into what happened on Canada Day than that. The Toronto Maple Leafs went into the two weeks after the Stanley Cup final if not hell-bent then at least incredibly determined to trade their top scorer.”

Guy Spurrier had this to say at the National Post:

Until this day, the teardown and rebuild of the Toronto Maple Leafs was still just a theory and a dream (or a nightmare, depending on your worldview).

Michael Traikos added this:

The Toronto Maple Leafs finally found Phil Kessel a centre.

Well, two of them, actually.

By sending Kessel to the Pittsburgh Penguins in a free-agency-trumping six-player trade, one of the most talented scorers in the National Hockey League will now be receiving passes from either Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin.”

The view from Pittsburgh:

Critics have questioned his conditioning.

They have questioned his commitment to playing a two-way game.

They have questioned how he fits into an NHL locker room.

But never, ever have there been questions about Phil Kessel’s ability to score goals.”

Apparently, Kessel is no dummy:

Oh, I’m just so excited, man. I really am. For it to be Pittsburgh … with everything that franchise has meant and two of the best players in the world there … I never would have thought I’d have the chance to play with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, to play on a team like the Penguins. It’s just amazing. I’m so pumped.

Chris Johnston filed this with

“For whatever reason, we had a lot of talented individuals on this team but as a group — the core group — it hadn’t worked,” said Shanahan. “This is about winning. Phil is certainly a very talented player, but we knew that changes had to come.”

Jonas Siegel seems to think the Leafs did as best as they could in his story:

Trading Phil Kessel was always going to be the Maple Leafs’ best chance at landing future assets to help push the franchise’s rebuilding plan forward.
The team took the plunge Wednesday; dealing its best and most productive player to Pittsburgh in the largest transaction of the Brendan Shanahan era, save for the hiring of head coach Mike Babcock last month. The Leafs got both picks and prospects in sending the soon-to-be 28-year-old Kessel to join Sidney Crosby and the Penguins.

David Naylor of TSN radio filed this video

Ken Campbell at The Hockey News had a good take:

The first thing fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs will have to get their heads around is that there’s a very good chance Phil Kessel will go to the Pittsburgh Penguins and score 40 goals a year. He might even score more. He could end up being wildly successful with the Penguins and might even win a Stanley Cup there. Kessel could end up being happier and more productive than he ever was in Toronto. And people will have to learn to be perfectly OK with that.

Scott Burnisde has a good story on

But — and this is a “but” that might well be written in bold capital letters with neon lights blinking around the edges — there are issues that will continue to dog Kessel in his new home, including his tepid finish last season when he scored just twice in his last 21 games.

I really like this one take on the Kessel trade from our friends at PPP:

“5. Woof.”

Exceptional as always, DGB wrote:

On the surface, the Maple Leafs didn’t need to trade Phil Kessel. The 27-year-old sniper has seven years left on his contract, so he wasn’t hitting the open market anytime soon. At an $8 million cap hit, he certainly wasn’t cheap, but he also wasn’t especially overpaid based on his production. And he was easily the team’s best player, and among the very best in the league when it comes to what he does best; only Alexander Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos, and Corey Perry have scored more goals over the last five years, and Kessel managed that while dragging Tyler Bozak around the ice as his center.

Over at MLHS Alec Brownscombe added this a day later:

“Even with all that in mind, this seems like a veteran GM gaining the clear edge on the Leafs for a few reasons.

There isn’t one piece of young talent with a measure of NHL proven-ness coming back. While former 22nd overall pick Kasperi Kapanen certainly has promise worth noting, it’s been reported that the Leafs got the fourth best defence prospect in the Penguins prospect pool, according to the Penguins internal ranking. That may be post-trade spin, but Harrington is certainly not ahead of Maatta or Pouliot.”

I think that about nails it…

In summary… I am surprised that DD was so definitive the night before free agency started. Kypreos led the way an hour before the deal got announced and no one seemed to notice. Sportsnet broke the story, however the analysis right after was better on TSN. I’d love to know what happened to Francois Beauchemin who seemed to be coming up next on TSN for a LONG time….

Re Simmons article: I think the article was the one thing it shouldn’t have been, personal. Truth be told Leaf fans don’t care how players treat the media. Clearly Simmons wasn’t a Kessel fan and his article reflected that. It was really personal. I read Simmons every Sunday. I’m pissed when he doesn’t write. I am a huge Kessel fan. He was the only player I really tuned into watch. I can tell you I ran into Kessel once. I was in Calgary at walked into a Starbucks and he was in line with me. I said hi to him, and bought him his coffee. He couldn’t have been nicer. He signed a reciept for my son and took a photo for him too. Basically, the guy scored 25+ goals a year playing with curly and larry. He will be missed and I hope he wins both an MVP and Stanley Cup in Pittsburgh.


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