Once upon a time, Phil Kessel was in competition to usurp Mats Sundin as my all-time favorite member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
And while it didn’t quite work out, Phil Kessel remains a beloved ex Toronto Maple Leafs player, and is a guy you can’t help but cheer for:
In a game full of statuesque athletes, he looks like a regular guy.
He’s also personable, funny, and incredibly dedicated to his craft. You couldn’t ask for a better player for your favorite team to invest in or a better role model for young players and kids.
However, that was back in 2009. Back then we also though Dion Phanuef was an elite player, and we also thought Brian Burke was a good GM and that Randy Carlyle was cool.
None of those things turned out to be true (except about Kessel, he was truly awesome). And, now, ten or fifteen years later, Phil is at the end of his career and would be quite the romantic call-back (to a desolate time of garbage, Leafswise).
So as fun as these things always are (Cito Gaston, Tony Fernandez, Cliff Fletcher, Luke Schenn etc) I am going to go ahead and pass.
The Toronto Maple Leafs Should Not Bring Back Phil Kessel
As much as I love Kessel, it’s time to move on. He doesn’t have anything left to offer that the team can’t get elsewhere.
Depth scoring? Let’s get real here. The Leafs have Nick Robertson, Matthew Knies and Bobby McCann. They also have Ty Voit, Jiri Hirvonen and Frazer Minten…..and a few more guys I could name, but won’t.
The point is, those guys need ice time. If the Leafs bring in Kessel, or even a different more decorated but still washed-up ex-superstar, they just lose out on the upside of players who need to play. Whether those players work out or not is irrelevant, the Leafs have to develop prospects at the NHL level and they can’t do that if they keep brining in older players to take away ice-time.
From Thornton to Marleau to Foligno to Boyle to Simmonds to Spezza……..enough is enough. They haven’t won anything with this strategy, and getting young players some sheltered minutes is a great way to find a diamond in the rough.
Therefore, the opportunity cost to bring in Phil Kessel is quite high, even if it wouldn’t cost anything to sign him.
The Leafs don’t need depth scoring, and if they did, Kessel wouldn’t provide it anyways. Kessel hasn’t scored 20 goals in three years, and he hasn’t had a positive on-ice impact on his team since the 2015-16 season.
What is there to even be nostalgic about here anyways? The Toronto Maple Leafs should not have any interest in Philadelphia Kessel.