Kessel gets the go-ahead; to make debut tonight vs. Lightning Staff

11/3/2009 12:17:35 PM

Phil Kessel will make his much-anticipated debut for the Toronto Maple Leafs this evening.

Kessel received clearance to play following today's skate and is scheduled to be in the lineup this evening when the Leafs host the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Recovering from surgery he had in May to repair a torn rotator cuff and labrum, Kessel underwent a battery of tests on the surgically repaired shoulder Monday and got the green light this morning.

The 22-year-old forward practiced with teammates this morning, skating on the second line with Matt Stajan and Jason Blake. To make room on the Leafs' roster, forward Jiri Tlusty was returned to the AHL Toronto Marlies.

Acquired by general manager Brian Burke from the Boston Bruins in exchange for a first and a second round pick in 2010, and a first round pick in 2011, Kessel and the Maple Leafs agreed to terms on a five-year, $27 million deal.

The Madison, WI, native scored 36 goals and 24 assists last season with the Bruins, his third full season in the league. In 222 career NHL games, Kessel has 66 goals and 60 assists.

The Maple Leafs are a league-worst 1-7-4 heading into Tuesday's game at Air Canada Centre, having settled for just one point in three consecutive overtime losses.