The Leafs may be facing a conundrum with their star player.
Phil Kessel is most definitely playing hurt. Although that can probably be said for a good part of the roster, Kessel is a different situation for the Leafs. When it comes to their offence, Kessel is the straw that stirs the drink when he’s hot and the Leafs can’t afford to lose him for an extended period of time.
A lot has been said about Kessel’s right wrist being taped and playing less than 16 minutes in the past three games. If his wrist is indeed injured, eventually the damage could get worse. That is something the Leafs don’t want.
With the Leafs playing every other day for the next week, it could be advantageous for the Leafs to sit Kessel for a game to let him rest whatever is wrong with his wrist. With the Leafs’ great start, they can afford to let Kessel sit a game or two for the better of his health for the rest of the season.
The Leafs are slowly returning to full health with Tyler Bozak nearly set to return any game now. If the Leafs were to lose Kessel, it would create a hole in the Leafs’ lineup that they would not be able to fill.
It’s better for the Leafs to rest Kessel now and let him heal rather than to play him and possibly regret it later.
As they always say, better safe than sorry.