Pittsburgh Penguins clinch Playoffs, Leafs To Recieve 1st Rounder

After months of slight nervousness, the Pittsburgh Penguins have finally clinched their expected spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, meaning that the conditions have been finalized for the trade that sent former Leafs star Phil Kessel to the Steel City.

Interestingly, Kessel has been a key part of the team’s playoff push. While firing head coach Mike Johnston in December and replacing him with Mike Sullivan was probably the most impactful move for the team, new systems and philosophies are only as useful as the players’ execution of them. Interesting, Kessel has thrived since going back to being the star player on his line, scoring 36 points (15 goals and 21 assists) in 41 games since the beginning of the Calendar Year. 

With the spot confirmed, the Leafs will send Pittsburgh’s second round pick back to them in exchange for Pittsburgh’s first-rounder. The second round pick was originally sent to the Leafs in exchange for Daniel Winnik in 2014/15.

That finalizes the full deal as follows:

To Pittsburgh: Phil Kessel ($1.2M/year retained), Tim Erixon, Tyler Biggs, PIT 2016 2nd Round Pick 

To Toronto: Kasperi Kapanen, Scott Harrington, Nick Spaling, PIT 2016 1st Round Pick, NJD 2016 3rd Round Pick

This means that Toronto will have a pair of picks in the first, second, third, fourth, and sixth round, with single picks in rounds five and seven. Obviously, there’s still a lot of time until draft day, so this number could fluctuate.

At the end of day, Leafs fans will no doubt be happy with increasing their return on investment. With that said, those looking for the best return possible will now immediately go from having Pittsburgh as their second team to their most hated team, as the best case scenario will now be a first-round exit from the Black and “Vegas Gold” franchise. With 2009 Conn Smythe Trophy winner Evgeni Malkin still on the road to injury recovery, that scenario might not be overly unrealistic, either.

  • Metal thrashin dad

    on behalf of all of leafs nation… one last time… #thankyoukessel. he helped clinch their spot with 5 goals, 5 assists and 10 points in his last 2 games as a final helping hand for his former club and the for the city that he loved deeply. we love you kessel but please get eliminated quickly in round 1 to increase that pick’s worth.

  • Metal thrashin dad

    I found myself at one point hoping Pittsburgh made the playoffs, but just squeeked in, and lost in the 1st round, just so that the Leafs got an elite player. But I eventually overcame this mental disability, and am now indifferent. Now, if Pittsburgh loses to the Capitals in the 2nd round, Toronto is most likely to get Tage Thompson. They are almost certain to take Ulf Dahlen’s son Jonathan 32nd. They are most likely to pick 2nd and Laine. Adam Fox is likely to be the only D-man at 60th, to be a difference-maker to the Leafs current crop of D-men prospects. There should still be a Swede (L Lindstrom) or Finn (Kuokkanen) center at 62nd who can play middle-six. Take a goalie at 77th. Take a big, over-age super-scorer at 92nd (Korshkov, Borgstrom), and big, skilled under-rated D-man at 102nd (Rubins) and 141 (Felixson or Rykov).
    forwards then 6’5 Thompson, 6’3 Laine, 6’5 Borgstrom, Dahlen, Lindstrom
    d-men Fox, 6’4 Rubins, 6’2 Rykov (and maybe 6’6 Felixson and 6’2 Pethrus)