Phil Kessel is awesome. The man who we described on here as a steal at eight million dollars per season now has nine goals and nine assists in just thirteen games. This is probably unsustainable, to say the least, but it appears likely that Kessel will have his third consecutive point-per-game season in blue and white, and his fifth at a 30+ goal pace. Forget about whether there’s a way to get more out of him for a second. We can all agree the Leafs should be very happy to have him, right? About that… here’s just a small sample of the Toronto Media over the past few years.
The Leafs seemed to have learned — finally — that blue-chip youngsters are not to be rushed. Similarly, surely they have learned through Tom Kurvers, the return of Wendel, Owen Nolan, Andrew Raycroft and Phil Kessel that the very definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and forecasting a different result.
At least when Kessel was acquired it could be imagined that one day he would be an untouchable. But it hasn’t happened, and worse, in the early days of the shortened 2012-13 season it appears he may be poised to struggle through his most difficult season in a Leaf uniform yet.
Kessel appears ill-conditioned, isolated, troubled or simply massively unlucky, or some combination of those.
Whatever the case, it is becoming difficult to imagine a scenario in which Kessel remains a Leaf beyond the end of this season.
– Damien Cox, Toronto Star, "Maple Leafs must keep first pick, deal Phil Kessel" January 28th, 2013
"Somewhere, Leafs forward Phil Kessel is on a golf course saying: “Harder? That’s a joke, right?”"
"Why would Kessel be a smart chip to cash in? He’s a perimeter-hugging winger in a net-front league playing for a team that will need to give up something of value to land its long-sought No. 1 centre."
– Dave Feschuk, Toronto Star, "Maple Leafs should trade Phil Kessel" June 7th, 2013
In not dealing Kessel sooner rather than later, the Leafs risk having a struggling, albeit important asset devalue into oblivion.
As the face of the franchise, which clearly was the intention given what the Leafs had to give up in return, it hasn’t panned out for Kessel.
– Michael MacDonald, Canada.com, "Will the Toronto Maple Leafs trade Phil Kessel?" January 30th, 2013
Burke can’t afford to insist that Kessel is a foundation player when he obviously is not, at least not for these Leafs, and he certainly can’t afford to make another huge financial commitment to him.
– Damien Cox, Toronto Star, "Toronto Maple Leafs need to turn page on Phil Kessel" March 14th, 2012
It is easy now, in the wake of another disastrous Maple Leafs season, to label the Phil Kessel trade preposterous.
It wasn’t so easy when the deal was made. Brian Burke made two giant miscalculations that have deemed the deal to failure.
– Steve Simmons, Toronto Sun, "It’s official: Kessel trade has turned into a disaster for Leafs" December 4th, 2010
Deals like this have happened before, but mostly in the pre-salary cap days. And still, if you look at the history, the team trading away Patrick Roy or Roberto Luongo or Pavel Bure (a Burke deal from Vancouver) were not equally compensated in deals. The history works against Columbus. That’s why the Leafs have to take a run at Nash, difficult as it may be. Even if it costs them depth or Kessel.
How long will it be before a player like this is available again?
– Steve Simmons, Toronto Sun, "Leafs on Nash’s trade list" February 16, 2012
“What would I give up for him? … I’m not giving up my best players for him, I can tell you that, and I’m not giving up my first-rounder, my best young player, if that’s what you are getting at,” he said.
“To be perfectly honest, and I don’t mean this in any way, shape or form as disrespect (to the Leafs), but I don’t think (Kessel) is a player most teams need on their roster.”
– Anonymous NHL GM via Mark Zwolinski, Toronto Star, "Phil Kessel’s trade value debated" March 15th, 2012
As an optimist, you’d like to think Kessel is capable of improving and evolving and dominating. As a realist, you know Kessel has only ever been described as being “driven” on the days he catches a lift to the rink with his roommate Bozie.
– Dave Feschuk, Toronto Star, "Promised land could be long way away if Kessel’s doing leading" October 2nd, 2013
Lastly, not quite a criticism, but….
The trade that sent Phil Kessel from the Boston Bruins to the Toronto Maple Leafs has been voted the best trade in Boston sports history, according to a recent NESN poll.
The Leafs acquired Phil Kessel in September 2009 in exchange for first-round picks in 2010 and 2011 and a second-round pick as well. Boston drafted Tyler Seguin with the 2010 pick and selected Dougie Hamilton in 2011.
That move beat out three other prominent trades in Boston sports history.
– Rogers Sportsnet, "Kessel trade voted Boston sports history’s best", February 5th, 2013
Got any other great quotes that have come out of the local media? Leave them in the comments.