Phil Kessel: Anatomy Of A Leafs Trade

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Is it time to move Phil Kessel? What is Phil Kessel worth? Is he the final domino to fall in Shanahan’s “scorched earth” campaign? Where should he be traded too? Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve started a new feature here at ; breaking down the anatomy of a trade involving a different piece of the Leafs core every episode. We’ll look at rumoured trades and teams that insiders say are interested, as well as one or two that haven’t been mentioned but make sense from a prospect/salary cap/team need perspective. We’ll break down what the Leafs would need for each player and then break down possible trades with each of the rumoured teams.

Anatomy Of A Phil Kessel Trade

Phil “The Thrill” Kessel. Where do we even begin with this elite goal scorer but “apparently” problematic dressing room character? Phil the out of shape, gym-adverse sniper who hasn’t missed a game since he played his first as a Leaf back in 2009-2010. Kessel the 6 time 30+ goal scorer (including the pro-rated 2012 lockout season).

Kessel, the guy who has no heart and you can’t win with, but yet has 21 points in 22 playoff games, and was the ONLY player in the top 10 in scoring three years in a row (2011-2014).

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Kessel’s name pops up 6th, 8th and 6th where names like Crosby, Giroux, Hall and Ovechkin appear only twice. Kessel is a bona fide offensive machine – and he’s only 27.He is one of the very few Maple Leafs who isn’t overpaid and he is almost iron man level injury resistant. He is the kind of player – especially in a modern-day NHL where goal scorers are becoming more of a rarity – that playoff contenders want.

Now, just to clarify, the Leafs need to trade Phil Kessel. However, it isn’t for the usual crap that most people are spewing around the inter-webs.

No, the Leafs don’t need to trade Phil Kessel because he isn’t a gym rat. No, they don’t need to trade him because he can’t lead the team to the cup – that isn’t and never was his job, the Leafs just failed to give LeafsNation the players that could do that and support him.

The reason the Toronto Maple Leafs need to trade Phil Kessel is because they need a clean slate. They started down the right path with hiring Shanahan with his ShanaPlan. Adding in quality hockey minds like Kyle Dubas, Mark Hunter and the entire advanced stats division to start thinking differently was the signal flare LeafsNation was looking for to start to believe again. Add in the front office house cleaning of Dave Nonis and 3/4’s of the scouting staff and we finally saw that the ShanaPlan was real.

All that was/is left was to discuss the rotten core. Phil Kessel is the lynchpin to that core.

Randy Carlyle, while coach of the Leafs, used to fret about giving Kessel days off from practice, but his assistants would tell him the upside was that practice would be better and more productive without No. 81. – Damien Cox, Sportsnet

I say rotten with a grain of salt, they are all still quality hockey players, they all still have real value and despite media reports; none of them are okay with losing.

The reason they are rotten is because they have collectively failed to elevate each other out of the pit of despair. Bozak, Lupul, Phaneuf and Kessel are the last staples of the Brian Burke and Dave Nonis regime. The front office has been gutted, the in arena entertainment has been overhauled, the PR&Media teams have been reformatted… all that is left is the real on ice product.

The Leafs have committed to a full “scorched earth” rebuild, which means out with the old, then suck enough to get 2-3 more top 5 picks and build around those potential stars. Phil Kessel is the first piece of that puzzle that needs to be moved.

Next: What Is Phil Kessel Worth?