Hodgemail: What do you think of the Kessel trade now? Staff

10/20/2011 8:13:42 PM

From the moment the Toronto Maple Leafs acquired winger Phil Kessel from the Boston Bruins and signed him to a five-year deal, the second guessing began.

The price tag for the trade that had the Leafs picking up the then 21-year-old was a first and second-round pick in the 2010 draft and a first-rounder in the 2011 draft.

Appearing in 70 games after recovering from shoulder surgery, Kessel potted 30 goals in his debut season with Toronto. But that wasn't enough to hold off the naysayers when the Leafs slumped to the second-worst record in the NHL and gave the Bruins the second-overall pick.

Boston selected highly-touted prospect Tyler Seguin and went on to win the Stanley Cup, with their prized rookie helping their cause along the way. Lost in the headlines was the fact that Kessel picked up another 32 goals in Toronto.

And this past June, the Bruins rubbed more salt in the wounds taking defenceman Dougie Hamilton ninth overall to complete the trade.

Until recently, popular opinion had the Bruins easily winning this trade. But are opinions starting to change this season?

Kessel leads the league in goals and points and is among the league leader in plus-minus. And his hot start (which earned him the first star in the opening week of the season) has helped the Leafs to pick up points in their first five games - an impressive 4-0-1 stretch.

A far cry from the lone embarrassed youngster who has his photo taken by Alex Ovechkin in Raleigh last winter, no?

So here was Dave's question to you: "Is your current evaluation of the Phil Kessel trade any different than your original evaluation?"

Here are some of the best responses:

"As long as Boston fans can chant "Thank you Kessel," and "1967", the leafs are the losers of this trade." - Jeff

"Kessel can score at least 30 goals without a lot of help -- Seguin can't." - Brad

"You're trying to jinx Phil Kessel, aren't you?" - James

"Kessel, at age 24, is among the top 5 in the NHL at his position. I will re-evaluate the trade if the same can be said of Seguin at the same age." - Mike

"It's 1-Nil Boston. I'm counting Stanley Cups, of course." - Trevor

"Five games in and you're asking this question?" (actually, yes, and you were free to answer it - or maybe you have) - Joe

"I had trouble defending Brian Burke at the time. Now, that's not so hard to do." - Ben

Dave's reply to all:

Well, let me take the bait and say that Kessel scores 40 or 50. The first question is: How did the Leafs do? It is true that, until the day Kessel wears a Stanley Cup ring that says "Toronto Maple Leafs," Tyler Seguin's Stanley Cup ring that says "Boston Bruins" is the trump card in this discussion. A trade that was supposed to pay off sooner for the Leafs and later for the Bruins has done the reverse and the Bruins would say it has only started to show results, with two prospects in the pipeline as well as Seguin in their lineup. But for now, the Leafs can say they got the best player in the deal and they can say it louder than ever if Kessel stays at or near the top of the scoring race. The twist is this: if Kessel was supposed to help the Leafs win the trade, it may turn out that the Leafs have to help Kessel win it. And that may take another Brian Burke trade, and we can go through this all over again.