Will the Leafs bring in the help of Phil Kessel this season? Promising signs from the first game of the rookie tournament in Kitchener.
The speculation has hit the ceiling recently as Toronto made a move to re-acquire their second round pick from Chicago in 2010 for a second and third round pick in 2011. At face value this trade does not seem to mean much but when you take note of the fact that Toronto now has their first, second and third round picks from 2010 and add in the speculation that they have been trying to acquire Kessel from Boston, this situation becomes very interesting. Toronto is now in a position to offer Phil Kessel and offer sheet in the 4.5 to 6 million dollar range which would cost them next year's 1st, 2nd and third round picks if Boston was unable to match which it looks like they may not be able to do.
Many Leaf fans will debate on whether this is a good move for the Leafs as they have often seen their future traded away for short-term fixes and bandaids. However, it can be argued that this does not fall into that category. If we are to speculate that this team does not finish in the bottom 10 which is a conceivable notion; then the three picks will likley not develop into anything better than what Kessel already is and what he has the potential to become. At 21 years old, he has already shown the sign of being a speedy sniper who could one day pot 40-50 goals in a season. Now it is difficult to say whether these numbers will translate to a Toronto team void of any players similar to what Kessel was playing with in Boston.
I guess my question is for all hockey fans: Would this be a good deal for the Leafs or another display of trading away valuable draft picks?
In other news, yesterday the Leafs kicked off their rookie tournament against rookies from the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Leafs rookies took the game 3-1 and there were a few players who displayed some brilliance throughout the game. Viktor Stalberg stood out with his size, blazing speed and the opening goal of the contest (assisted by Bozak and Hanson; all of whom currently are roommates in Toronto). As I havbe stated in a previous blog, Stalberg is still my pick to make this team and he has all the tools to be a solid top 6 player on the Leafs. Nazem Kadri and Tyler Bozak were inconsistent at times but both showed skill on a few occasions throughout the game. One particular play came when Kadri broke down the right wing and cut inside on the Penguins' defenseman and rang a shot of the far post.
In maybe more important news for Leafs fans, Jonas “the Monster” Gustavsson put on the blue and white jersey for the first time (#50) and showed signs of why the Leafs came after him so hard this off-season. He was in position to make the saves and showed some flashes of athleticism with some glove saves. He made 35 of 36 saves with the lone goal against coming via a tipped shot. Leaf fans can be forgiven for being excited about this guy who looks like he has the skills, size and demeanor (lacking in previous prospects) to be a good backup this season.
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Written by Mike Crupi