The Bruins finally traded Phil Kessel, sending him to the Toronto Maple Leafs for 2010 and 2011 1st round draft picks, and a 2010 second round pick.
Leafs GM Brian Burke could have easily signed Kessel to an offersheet for the exact amount he signed him for, 27 million dollars over 5 seasons, and the Bruins wouldn’t have matched most likely based on Peter Chiarelli’s comments. Burke essentially gave us an extra 1st rounder to make sure we didn’t trade Kessel to Nashville and for him not to have to offer an offersheet to start a war.
The Bruins had their backs against the wall, because Kessel did not want to play in Boston for one reason or another, and Burke had the option of the offersheet. Only one team was willing to pay Kessel, and that was Toronto. The Bruins got a good return for Kessel, but the return is unproven. Those picks could turn into a superstar player, or be traded for one, but that is unknown.
On the Bruins side, this deal leaves them with their roster set, and some breathing room with 1.7 million in cap space to made a move if necessary. The Bruins now have a whopping 8 selections, (4 firsts, 4 seconds) in the next three years. These picks could easily be moved on the treading deadline to acquire the next super star with an expiring contract (Ilya Kovalchuk anyone?).
The Bruins have been dominating the second round of the draft the past few years (David Krejci, Milan Lucic, and Patrice Bergeron), so the 2nd round picks for Toronto and Tampa Bay (Recchi trade) may have more value than the firsts, who knows. The Bruins have not had a lot of success for one reason or another in the first round, since drafting Joe Thornton, here are their picks:
Nothing great. Mark Stuart has developed nicely, Boynton had a few good seasons, but nothing great. The rest have been busts or traded. Hamill shows a lot of potential, but these are recent picks.
Now the question is where are these picks going to fall in the draft? Many feel Toronto is a bubble playoff team, but that has yet to be determined. They bulked up on defense, adding Mike Komisarek, Francios Beauchemin, and Garnet Exelby, and they still have Tomas Kaberle, Luke Schenn, Mike Van Ryn, Ian White and Jeff Finger. Someone will have to go. On offense though, the did not do much, they added Wayne Primeau, Colton Orr and now Phil Kessel. While Toronto did make a lot of moves, most of it was on defense. Their goaltending is suspect, with Vesa Toskala and Jonas Gustavsson. While their defense improved, they still lack that number one defensive stud. Kaberle is one of the better offensive guys, Schenn is still young, and Komisarek is not a number one guy. Their offense lacks fire power. They have Grabovski, Blake, Kessel, Hagman, Stajan, Ponikarovsky, Stempinak, Primeau and Kulemin as their top 9, nothing to celebrate over. The pick could be anywhere from a top 10 to mid teens. In 2011, it will probably be mid to late teens.
As an organization, it is never good to see a guy you drafted 5th overall, someone you want to base your franchise around, to leave after just three years. That is not getting return on your product.
On the Toronto side, this is a huge risk. Kessel is a great player, but he is very one dimensional. Aside from last year, he never potted 20 goals. He played on the 2nd best offense in the league, and with one of the premier centers in the league. On the flip side, he was in a defense first team, Toronto is a more freewheeling offense, he is only 21 and he performs well in the playoffs.
Burke gave up a lot for Kessel, mortgaging the unpredictable future. Without an elite center, Kessel could come down to earth and be just a 20 goal scorer like he was his first two seasons. Kessel could also max out to what he is now, which has happened to many top 10 picks. That is, they have a huge improvement year, but never repeat that improvement and stay where they are for the majority of their prime career. Kessel could also become a perennial 50 goal scorer. All is speculation until he plays in Toronto.
The only thing we can tell is Toronto got the better player, but the rest is unknown. This could end up a deal that each team regrets.