Why the Trade Package Acquired For Phil Kessel Has More Value Than Advertised

When past top 5 goal scorer, Phil Kessel, was traded away on July 1st it came to no surprise by fans. With Brendan Shanahan making it clear to the fans, he wanted to eliminate all aspects of the Burke-Nonis era and proved this by sending the whole coaching staff packing along with many scouts and other front office workers. It was clear at the draft that this franchise was no longer bent on acquiring players with “pugnacity” in Burkes words, but instead immense skill and advanced hockey IQ. Just days after making this obvious to the public,The leafs compromise their roster by trading their most skillful player. Phil Kessel was the player holding them back from acquiring a top 5 pick in every draft and is skillful enough to keep them a mediocre team for years. The front office realized that he must go so that they may rebuild properly through the draft and restock their farm system with as much high-end talent as possible. Many believed that the package the leafs would get would include former #8th overall pick defensman Derrick Pouliot and were frustrated when it came out that Pouliot would remain a Penguin. Although the Leafs did not acquire their best prospect, that does not mean they did not stockpile very high-end useful talent. In Kasperi Kapanen, you get yet another highly skilled RW with very similiar aspects to Kessel, and very different ones as well. Kapanen has a very quick release with an accurate shot that leaves goalies looking over their shoulders, with above average speed and over 0.5 points a game in the Finnish league and 5 points in 6 playoff games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton after 2 points in 4 regular season games. He is a playoff performer that needs another half year to year to bulk up and further develop his 2 way game, but with already better numbers on the North American ice surface, there shouldn’t be too much worry that he further develops into an offensive top 6 winger. In the defence prospect, Scott Harrington, people see a peaked performer who’s best days are behind him in the world juniors. WRONG. He has never been a point producing defenseman during any part of his career, but provides an old school, hard-nosed, scrappy shutdown defender the leafs have been looking for. He is not big for a shutdown defender, but rarely makes mistakes with the puck and can play against teams top lines. With a shortened season last year due to injury, he only managed to play 48 games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton amassing 12 points. Some would see this as minuscule but when you look at his +/- rating of 19, it shows that Harrington is a defender that will do all the little things right. A character guy in having an A on his jersey for Team Canada at the world juniors, Leafs fan should be glad they acquired Harrington and stop focusing on not acquiring Pouliot. In Nick Spaling they have an asset to flip at the draft for picks. An economic deal of 1 more year at 2.2 million, and 27 points in all 82 games next year with a decent size body and the ability to play both wing or centre, never mind his negative corsi on possession that everyone is now looking at, someone will give the leafs a decent draft pick (most likely 3rd) at the trade deadline for this role player. Add a probable late 1st round draft pick along with a third, and you have yourself a top six offensive winger, a top 4-top 6 shutdown defenseman to log big minutes, an asset to flip for a mid-round draft pick, a 1st rounder which gives this talent thirsty franchise another good chance for a solid NHL player, and a 3rd to sweeten the pot. What the leafs gave up in Tyler Biggs and Tim Erixon are purely for contract purposes, and it is understandable that Pittsburgh needs the 2nd round pick back after giving the leafs their 1st and 3rd. Leafs fans, get ready for an exhilerating few years where we can analyze how this trade turns out for Toronto.

Simon Woodgate

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