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Yes, Kessel looks great…

Oct 20, 2011, 1:41 PM EDT

Phil Kessel celebrates with Dion Phaneuf Getty Images

Was the Phil Kessel trade good for the Leafs after all?

That’s what TSN’s Dave Hodge is wondering in his weekly feature, “Hodgemail.”

Kessel has seven goals and five assists in Toronto’s first five games. The Leafs are 4-0-1, first in the Northeast. For a fan base that hasn’t experienced the playoffs since 2004, life is good. So it’s a timely question to ask.

But come on, let’s not get carried away.

The price the Leafs paid the Boston Bruins for Kessel were draft picks that turned into forward Tyler Seguin (second overall in 2010), forward Jared Knight (32nd in 2010), and defenseman Dougie Hamilton (ninth overall in 2011). Seguin and Hamilton have star potential. Knight could be very good as well.

And here’s something else to consider. Kessel only has three years left on his contract, after which he becomes an unrestricted free agent. The Leafs will have the inside track on re-signing him, but at what cost?

Toronto still isn’t a Cup contender. The Leafs might be 4-0-1, but they also just played four straight home games against non-playoff teams after opening the season in Montreal against the Canadiens, who’ve looked awful so far. Let’s see how they do on their four-game road trip that starts tonight in Boston, with games against the Habs, Rangers and Flyers to follow.

  1. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Oct 20, 2011 at 3:25 PM

    I’ll take Kessel, a proven 30+ goal scorer, over Seguin any day. If anything they’re going to be very similar players over the course of their carer. The Leafs have more than enough D so I’m pretty indifferent to Hamilton

    • danphipps01 - Oct 20, 2011 at 3:38 PM

      Giving up a first-line centre who’s likely going to be as good as Kessel and could be better (bear in mind, Kessel’s not a centre, either) AND a potential top-pair D-man for him, though, is just a bad deal. Seguin’s already shaping up to be a franchise star on a team loaded with talent. Much as I love Kessel and the Leafs on fire, the Bruins got a lot more than they gave.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Oct 20, 2011 at 3:53 PM

        In a trade for a rising star like Kessel you often have to give up more than you want to, but that doesn’t make it a bad trade. Bear in mind Burke didn’t anticipate the Leafs would be so bad they’d be giving up a top 5 and top 10 pick. Seguin could be better than Kessel, or he could not. I don’t think you can judge this trade until he’s played 4 or 5 years in The Show

    • danphipps01 - Oct 20, 2011 at 4:34 PM

      Yeah, point taken. Burke couldn’t have known what he was giving up there until it happened.

      • Brian - Oct 20, 2011 at 6:02 PM

        …in which case Burke is a terrible talent evaluator who horribly overestimated his own team.

        Don’t get me wrong, I think Burke’s done some good things with the Leafs. But when you get down to it that’s not much of an excuse. Tons of people were saying the Leafs might be that bad the year Seguin was drafted. It wasn’t a minority opinion by any stretch. Why couldn’t Burke see it?

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Oct 20, 2011 at 7:08 PM

        My guess is a lot of the people who thought the Leafs would be that bad were the ones who like to mock our futility every year from whatever bandwagon they happen to be on. I’m sure Burke consulted many people in the organization before pulling the trigger on this deal, unfortunately in hindsight he hasn’t come out on top when we look back at that trade. But as we all know, if given the chance Burke would make that deal again and if Kessel keeps playing up to his true potential I have no problem with it

  2. stakex - Oct 20, 2011 at 9:50 PM

    Theres no way to know for sure if the deal was worth it until we see how well Seguin and Hamilton turn out… and how well Kessel plays for the next few years.

    I know one thing for sure: Kessel isn’t going to keep this pace going for long. It should be intresting to see how he handles his current wave coming to an end.

  3. babar61 - Oct 20, 2011 at 10:19 PM

    They finished a point out of the playoffs the previous year, so I can understand them thinking that they would not get a top draft pick. That being said, you still can’t say who came ahead in the trade until more time passes. For all we know kessel gets the art Ross this year on route to a conn smythe and stanley cup for the leafs(ok I almost made it not bursting out laughing).

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