"For the 10th time in the past 20 years, the Maple Leafs have sacrificed a first-round selection in the NHL entry draft to make a significant trade."
September 21, 2009
I have emerged, relatively unscathed, from a 33 and a half hour bachelor party in Toronto. A copious amount of alcohol was consumed. In large part to celebrate the arrival of #81; Madison, Wisconsin's own, Phil Kessel. (And the soon-to-be-groom.)
I admit it: I chuckled, rather boisterously, upon reading the first sentence of Damien Cox's column Saturday morning ...
Who didn't see that coming?
But I digress. Cox's column was, in fact, borderline positive.
It's one thing to trade a first-round draft pick for an aging Brian Leetch. Or a 29-year-old (and going on 41) Wendel Clark. Or a 31-year-old Owen Nolan. It's another to trade a first-round draft pick for a goalie - Vesa "my five-hole is always open" Toskala - unproven as a legitimate number one.
But it's a whole new ball game when you trade two first-round draft picks, and a second-round pick, for a guy who's scored 36 goals in the NHL before the age of 22.
I believe in Phil Kessel.
Don't get me wrong; I thought, much like you, that the days of trading first-round picks were over. I thought we had dawned upon a new era; you know, an era in which the Leafs would actually develop their own talent. But the Kessel deal is one, I have decided, that I can get behind. The Kessel deal is one that had to be made. Brian Burke has found his top-six forward. He's locked up him up, long-term. And at the high cost of three draft picks, including two first-rounders, so be it. In Brian Burke I trust.
How can you not be excited about a guy who averaged only 16:32 of ice-time a game last season, along with limited power play duty, and still potted 32 goals? Only freedom-hating terrorists can't appreciate that shit.
How does a future of Nazem Kadri, Kessel, and Luke Schenn sound? Boners abound, I say.
The best part: Kessel, coming off shoulder surgery, will be ready to play in mid-November. When it matters.
UPDATE #2: "Phil the Thrill." What do we think?