Although on the surface it looks like Brian Burke really got taken in this deal, giving up the future for the present (as per Maple Leafs 1980-present), let’s dig a bit deeper into this trade and maybe get some perspective on where the mad scientist Brian Burke was coming from.
To start I’d like to say that I am still skeptical of the deal myself, but after reading that Mr. Scratch had shared many of my opinions I went back to how I felt the very second I found out this deal was happening. I felt excited about the upcoming season and the thought of finally being able to see the blue and white skating in the post season. With every move Brian Burke has made since he’s arrived in Toronto I think it’s safe to say that Leafs Nation becomes a little bit more excited. From the minute Burke took over the reigns as GM there was anticipation in the air that was palpable; anticipation that something big was going to happen. Trade deadline came and went with minor deals being put though, anticipation and excitement grew. Free agency came and went with no major deals, but anticipation and excitement grew a bit more with the signing of Mike Komisarek, Jonas Gustavsson and Francois Beachemin among others. There have been rumblings of the toughness the Leafs will be bringing and “best defense in the Eastern Conference”. Are you excited yet? Well here’s the big one, Brian Burke deals 2 first round picks and 1 second for the rights to sign Phil Kessel to a 5 year $27 million deal working out to $5.4mil/season. Alright it’s official, I’m super excited to see this kid play. Although he was playing with one of the better playmakers in the league in Marc Savard, he scored 36 goals in 70 games last year. Exciting! A 21 year old proven goal scorer and we’re only giving up things we don’t even know about it. But of course it has come back to bite the Leafs in years past where draft picks that were traded away have come to be some great players.
Now that the Leafs have Kessel, where do they finish in the standings? The reason I’m defending this trade this year is because this is the best position the Leafs have been in since the lockout. If this deal was made last year it would have been crazy as there were so many roster needs that had to be addressed. But with the acquisitions Burke has made to date, this one additional trade could possibly move them up 5-6 maybe even 7 spots in the Eastern Conference. A 2010 draft pick will be pretty insignificant anywhere above 15 or so. Not to say that you can’t get a great player there but Kessel was drafted 5th overall and I know for a fact that if the Leafs were in the 15th spot in the 2010 draft and traded a second rounder and 2011 first round pick to move up to fifth it wouldn’t be that bad of a deal. Then add in the fact that Kessel has proven he can score in the NHL and the deal makes perfect sense. Moral of the story is the more of an impact that Kessel makes this year and next the better the deal looks for the Leafs. The major downfall is that the Leafs will be playing in a division with Boston who are going to be stacked full of draft picks for the next 2 years.
This is a great deal for the Leafs for this year and years to come, not only because Kessel is a great young player but also because I don’t think Furious B (Brian Burke) is done making his championship mark on this team. I see another deal where the Leafs will trade 1-2 defensemen for another top 6 forward, I’d hope to see a young playmaker come to compliment the goal scoring ability on the roster. We’ll see how this trade works out but as of right now I’d say the Leafs are the winners of the deal…only time will tell.
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