The trade that will not go away is finally complete. The names are all known only the circumstances remain spotty.
When Brian Burke made the polarizing deal for Phil Kessel, he knew it wouldn't disappear quickly. He knew it would be analyzed ad nauseum. He knew there was all kinds of risk involved.
What we don't know — and can't know — is whether the Maple Leafs would be in better shape today if he hadn't made the controversial deal.
The trade became complete on draft night. Kessel came to the Leafs and the Bruins turned two first-round picks and a second-round choice into Tyler Seguin, Jared Knight and Dougie Hamilton. The players all have names and faces now: What still can't be determined is what any of the three Boston players will become.
On paper, the score is 62-10 in the goal department in favour of the Leafs. Kessel with 62 goals. Seguin with 10 — and more on the way. When and if Knight plays in the NHL is anyone's guess. Those who watch him with the London Knights believe he will play one day. Those who know Hamilton well figure he'll be a prominent NHL defenceman. On Draft Day, everyone is always something prominent. The reality is never so simple.
And nothing about Phil Kessel ever is.
He's a goal scorer but not a leader. He's a speedster but rarely a game changer. He is the quintessential 'yeah, but' hockey player — for everything you get, you give something back. For everything he gives you in production, he takes a little away with the other missing aspects of his game. He doesn't necessarily have a good attitude or a bad attitude: There is no easy definition of Kessel other than streaky goal scorer and the Maple Leafs will spend this weekend, next weekend and maybe part of the summer looking for someone to centre his line and make him better.
With Kessel, the Maple Leafs aren't a playoff team in their current format.
Without him, they might well be worse.
Kessel deal complete: Who won?
Toronto Sun | Jun 25