Jan 28, 2013, 12:27 PM EST
Toronto Star columnist Damien Cox thinks the Maple Leafs should trade their “ill-conditioned, isolated, troubled or simply massively unlucky” sniper, Phil Kessel.
The column’s timing is no surprise. Kessel doesn’t have a goal in his first five games. And while the 25-year-old’s dry streak isn’t for a lack of chances, it’s still a major topic of conversation in Toronto.
The column also comes just weeks after general manager Brian Burke – the man who acquired Kessel from Boston in a much-criticized trade – was fired.
Here’s how Cox sees it:
Kessel cost the Leafs a great deal, as much, perhaps, in prestige as in actual assets. Indeed, that deal may ultimately have cost Burke his job.
That’s not to blame Kessel for the state of the team, although as the star forward, he has to shoulder his fair share.
Personality-wise, this just hasn’t been a fit. Like Andrea Bargnani, he could be a nice secondary piece on a good team.
On a young, struggling team, however, he can’t be the front man.
Beyond that, if you’re the Leafs, you don’t want to be the team that has to figure out what to pay Kessel once his current deal ends at the conclusion of next season.
At a $5.4 million cap hit ($5.1 million in real money this season), he’s affordable given his stats and goal-scoring ability.
At $7 million, or $8 million, it will be much different. And that’s what he’ll be able to demand.
Agree or disagree with Cox’s take, don’t expect the debate to go away anytime soon. That is, unless new GM Dave Nonis comes out and says a trade isn’t going to happen. (And even then, is Nonis telling the truth?)
Of course, it should be noted Nonis just signed Kessel’s line mate, Joffrey Lupul, to a five-year, $26.25 million contract extension – a move the Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle called a “clear indication” that Nonis wants to keep Kessel.
- Steen, Blues hold on against Ovechkin, Capitals 4
- David Backes ejected after boarding, bloodying Karl Alzner 15
- End nearing? Lightning waive Nabokov 4
- Leafs scoring slump hits historical low 24
- Video: Rangers’ Lundqvist takes puck to the neck 10
- Zamboni driver arrested for DUI, allegedly cleaned ice surface while drunk 18
- Mike Richards trying to make the best of being sent to the AHL 15
- Price leads Habs past Caps with second straight shutout 12
- Report: Rob Blake would be Brendan Shanahan’s first choice to replace Dave Nonis 5
- Bettman would be ‘kicking and screaming’ before NHL jerseys have ads 29