September 21, 2009

Is this real life?




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 ...

"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."

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: Playoffs!!1

UPDATE #2: "Phil the Thrill." What do we think?

19 comments:

William said...

The purient in me wants more details of the bachelor party. hehe

Moneypuck said...

The problems are thus:

1. His numbers may be inflated due to Savard.
2. He didn't get more ice time because hes horrid defensively.
3. His shooting % suspiciously doubled this year over his career %.
4. He hits his prime once the deal is done.
5. Hes the 2nd highest paid RW in the league.

Hes a great player, but IMO hes not worth that contract nevermind the picks too.

"Dave Schultz" said...

I'm with Moneypuck, I don't think he's worth it. Add in the surgery for the type of injury that ends the careers of pitchers. Jussayin.

With or without him, PLAYOFFS!!1

Moneypuck said...

Its a good thing hes not throwing any fastballs. ;)

Chester said...

Gosh wait to go Tronna.

Not only have you assured yourselves of never ever building a team, but you have now guaranteed that The Beaners will crush for the foreseable future, adda boy Burke The Jerk.

Scott said...

Hard to get behind it right now, maybe in December when he's acclimated it will look better for Burke and the Leafs. Gotta trade a d-man or two to clear up some cap space.

eyebleaf said...

@ Moneypuck: Did you like how I wrote the entire post without mentioning any of the negatives/question marks that come with Phil the Thrill? And I know that +/- isn't the accredited stat it used to be, but a guy who was +23 last season can't be called "atrocious defensively." At least that's what I keep telling myself. As for his attitude, I don't really care, as long as he scores goals. Jason Blake isn't the best teammate, apparently. Same with Grabbo. If they produce, we're all happy.

"He hits his prime once the deal is done." That's the key, mate. For once, we dealt draft picks for a guy who's not even yet in his prime, and not even really close to it. And he boasts a 36-goal season on his resume. That's crazy talk. This is the Leafs we're talking about here. We're about to find out if he's worth the picks, and the contract, and that's why it's going to be fun.

He may be the 2nd highest paid RW in the league. He also becomes the Leafs' highest paid player. And at $5.2 million, that ain't bad at all.

My point is: I don't think Kessel has come close to his ceiling. This is a very highly touted young player we're talking about here. The upside is tremendous. Instead of thinking how he'll do without Marc Savard, let's think of what Kessel will do for Matt Stajan, and Mickey Grabs.

@ Schultzy: I love how you think in solely baseball terms now. It's amazing.

@ Chester: Boston in the house. Not sure how Boston will crush the Leafs everytime the two teams meet, now that "Tronna" has stolen your sniper, but the games surely will be more interesting. And by "interesting" I mean the Leafs will win the season series.

@ Scott: The Leafs had to trade a d-man or two before Kessel arrived. It'll happen. Burke knows what he's doing. He can always stash one of Finger or Van Ryn in the minors. The Leafs are one of the better positioned teams cap wise. That makes me happy. Puts a spring in my step.

eyebleaf said...

Also: Kessel scored 28 of his 36 goals at even strength last season. Huge.

Moneypuck said...

Eyeb:

Haha I know how you roll with your man-crushes so its all good ;)

1. On his +-, if it was even a credible stat you would want to use it context, firstly he was 7th on his team in +- (5th amongst forwards).

Also in On/Off Ice+-, which is the goal differential in which he was on the ice compared to not he was 4th.

So maybe one can say hes not bad defensively, but I've watched this guy since college all the way through his pro career and I have not seen much commitment to the defensive game.

2. I never said anything about his attitude? Although hes supposed to be a dick.

3. Whose this "we" I'm a Habs fan ;) Yes he did score 36 goals, but like I said there are a few signs that may signify a regression. Will he get back to that scoring rate? Theres a chance but I'm not optimistic it will be in the next year or two.

He may fulfill his potential in the latter part of the deal, but thats a lot of assets and money committed to watching a guy grow just to see him hit UFA once the deal just starts getting juicy.

eyebleaf said...

@ Moneypuck: Didn't know you were a Habs fan, good sir. Glad to have you around, regardless.

As for the deal, only time will tell. Here's hoping this one works out for "Tranna."

looshV said...

Phil Kessel had 186 goals as a 14 year old......,and Chemmy has a killer breakdown of why Kessel will be an elite talent for the Leafs. HE IS 21. He will mature with age like a fine wine does. What I really want to know is what the average weight gain of our forwards was in the off-season because, Mitchel.Looks.Huge. As does Mickey Grabs for that matter and Matt Stajan and......Our forwards look a lot bigger and meaner period. Jason Blake looks pretty invisible though. I wonder if Burke would really have the stones though, to throw a rock like that down to Ricoh?

eyebleaf said...

@ Loosh: I expect big things from Johnny Mitchell. And Grabs, and Stajan. There's no room for Jason Allison, that's for sure. I do have to call you out on that Blake comment, though. He's a veteran. This is the pre-season. And Blake is no "rock." We're talking about the Leafs' leading scorer last season. He was more than solid, and earned his $4 million. I expect he'll do the same this year. Blake's my boy. He's on the top two lines, that's for sure.

eyebleaf said...

And here's the post by Chemmy from Pension Plan Puppets:

http://www.pensionplanpuppets.com/2009/9/21/1046891/the-middle-of-the-first-round

looshV said...

I can't argue last years stats but his production seemed to really tail off after Dom Moore left town. If his attitude and play goes south are BBRW evoking the "no sense of entitlement" effect? I was hoping to see a little more inspired effort in the pre-season to come out as a real leader for the forward corps. And is Stempy really that much better or is this the BB trade hype machine getting down to business once again? Hmmmmm....

eyebleaf said...

If Blake's attitude becomes a problem, or he stops doing the things that make him successful, he'll be benched, just like he was last season. That seemed to light a fire under his ass, wouldn't you agree? As for his production, he had 13 points in 13 games in February, 10 points in 13 games in March, and 3 points in 6 games in April. He did his job.

As for Stempniak, he can't possibly be as bad as he was when he came over last season. I'm interested to see what he can do. Hopefully he gets a chance on the top two lines, and provides some much needed snipe-age.

Might as well believe in Lee Stempniak.

looshV said...

I do believe. Sometimes it's all a fans got.

Bhattorious said...

what up peeps, long time....

Anywho, let me weigh in on the Kessel Deal

I would have liked the deal a lot more if the picks were lottery protected.

But they are not, however, it is hard to guage what a pick will become anyways.

If Burke had signed him to an offer sheet at the same price we signed him, the leafs would have had to give up a 1st, 2nd & 3rd....instead they up'd the 3rd to a 1st and we have Kessel. If it were a different scenario the price would have been to much...but given his age and skill level, the deal is worth it. But we wont know that for 5 years.

PS

Kadri will not make the team this year, eyebeleaf get the poster down, for now.....now the leafs and the raps have a camel jockey on thier teams....

Khuda-Hafiz

Bhattorious........

eyebleaf said...

Bhatti BUOY, where the fuck you been? I don't feel so bad about the first rounders because the Leafs are no longer a top-10 pick team; we won't be this year, and we won't be next year. So these should be mid level picks. I'm thinking 17-22. That's optimistic, but that's how I roll.

What I don't understand is why not sign him to that offer sheet? That way we save a first rounder. It seems like Boston and Kessel were done with each other; all reports in the aftermath of the trade are sure making it seem that way. Perhaps Burke didn't want to give Boston a chance to match, or perhaps he so loathes the offer sheet process after the Penner fiasco that he refuses to sign a guy to one. I find the latter hard to believe, because Burke is a jerk, and has no time to play nice, so why do it with an offer sheet? As you said, only time will tell whether Toronto in fact wins this trade.

And you're right about Kadri; another year in junior, and a crack at the World Jrs. tournament is what he needs. And I'm cool with that.

KHUDA-HAFIZ!!!1

Zack said...

Sorry I'm late, but I'm still trying to read the terms of the trade agreement and figure out the legalease that would translate to "and a good player to be named later, cause this is highway robbery otherwise" but c'est la vie, as long as the Jacobs own the Bruins, we will never have a shot at the Cup.

In terms of that plus-minus debate, I think that a lot of that needs to be looked at in a power play context, all the Bruins that finished ahead of Kessel (Krejci, Wheeler, Wideman, Chara, Ryder, and Savard) were all the main points of attack on a power play that was very successful for 3/4 of the season, so I don't know that finishing 7th is something you can hold against him.