Kessel trade official, inks 5-yr $27 million deal thumbnail

Kessel trade official, inks 5-yr $27 million deal

September 18, 2009   ·     ·   Jump to comments

Phil Kessel is officially a Maple Leaf. As TSN accurately reported earlier this evening, the Boston holdout signed on the dotted line with his new club, agreeing to a five-year $27 million deal to complete a trade that saw the Bruins receive Toronto’s first and second picks in 2010 along with their 2011 No.1.

First, Dany Heatley last week to rumored San Jose. Now, Kessel to much maligned Toronto who tried acquiring him at the Draft. The only difference is they didn’t have to part with anyone retaining Tomas Kaberle. Figure Brian Burke to be pretty busy unloading a couple off his crowded blueline to comply with the $56.8 million cap. Likely candidates include Mike Van Ryn, Jeff Finger and Garnett Exelby.

Kessel, who scored a career high 36 goals last season with the Bruins, turns 22 October 2. The Leafs start the season versus the new look Canadiens a Oct.1 renewing one of the greatest rivalries.

Now that he’s got his money, the pressure will be on the former 2006 fifth overall pick to deliver on a Maple Leaf roster that lacks quality finishers. Kessel automatically becomes their best scoring forward. Perhaps he can take some pressure off Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin who each will be expected to improve in 2009-10.

The Leafs have a solid supporting cast which includes veteran Jason Blake along with Alexei Ponikarovsky, Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman and Lee Stempniak. In an awfully tough Northeast, they’ll hope the Kessel addition will make them more competitive. Especially with a revamped D that includes Francois Beauchemin and Mike Komisarek.

But there are still questions in net with Vesa Toskala and Swedish Monster import Jonas Gustavson not ready due to a minor heart procedure. Former Isles’ goalie Joey MacDonald should start the season as the backup.

The Leafs at least improved tonight but will still be hardpressed to qualify for the playoffs. Something they haven’t done since the lockout. Figure Burke to continue turning over the roster as he continues to reconstruct the Original Six Cup starved franchise.

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