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Kessel traded to Maple Leafs, signs 5-year, $27M contract

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Darren Dreger
9/19/2009 2:34:27 PM
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The drama surrounding Phil Kessel has finally come to an end as the Boston Bruins have traded their disgruntled sniper to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for a first and a second round pick in 2010, and a first round pick in 2011.

Kessel and the Maple Leafs then quickly agreed to terms on a new five-year, $27 million deal.

While both the Nashville Predators and New York Rangers had shown interest, Leafs' general manager Brian Burke's persistence finally paid off.

Kessel is expected to arrive in Toronto on Saturday.

Burke believes that this is a clear sign to the team which direction he believes they are headed.

"Bringing Phil Kessel aboard, it's a statement to our players that we intend to be competitive right away, and I think he gives us a dimension that we need," Burke told reporters following the Maple Leafs pre-season victory over the Penguins Friday.

He added that Kessel is extremely excited to be coming to Toronto.

"This is a free agent that could have signed with other teams, he wanted to sign with us, and I think it's an important pick up for us."

While Burke admitted that the price-tag to acquire a player like Kessel was high, it was feasible for several reasons.
  
"It's a very high price but it's one we feel makes sense for us and I think what's made it possible to expend those picks is two focuses: one is that he's a young player, he's not even 22 yet," Burke said.
  
"And second, we think with some of the players we acquired without giving up picks like Tyler Bozak, (Robert) Slaney, (Christian) Hanson and (Jonas) Gustavsson, these are players that were they available on the draft would command a high price like that. We feel by stocking the cupboard we can take some of the cans off the shelf for the future."

The trade ends a saga that began during the lead-up to the NHL Draft when Kessel originally appeared to be headed to Toronto in exchange for defenceman Tomas Kaberle and a draft pick.  However, the deal was scuttled at the last moment due to a miscommunication over the pick.

The Bruins had been unable to re-sign the 21-year old Kessel and the two sides were miles apart on a new contract. A restricted free agent, Kessel was reportedly looking for a deal in the neighbourhood of $4-5 million a season, while the Bruins, who are right up against the league mandated $56.8 million salary cap, could not afford to sign the Madison, Wisconsin native to the terms he desired.

Kessel informed the team through his agent last week that he was through negotiating and intended to sign an offer sheet with one of the league's other 29 clubs.

The newest Leaf, who is sidelined until at least November following rotator cuff surgery, overcame a battle with testicular cancer in 2006 and captured the Masterton Trophy in 2007 for perseverance and dedication to hockey. He enjoyed a career season with the Bruins last year, leading the team with 36 goals in 70 games while adding 24 assists to finish with a career high 60 points. He was selected in the first round, fifth overall by the Bruins in the 2006 NHL Entry draft.

 

Phil Kessel (Photo: Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Dave Sandford/Getty Images)
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