Bob McCown has suggested that the Kessel deal is like trading Schenn, Kadri and a 2nd round pick. Nonsense. McCown ignores the crucial fact that not all 1st round picks are alike. There is a huge difference between, for example, a #5 pick (Luke Schenn) and a #15 pick. McCown's criticism only makes sense if you assume the Leafs will be horrible again this year and next. I can't see how anyone can objectively suggest that given the obvious improvements they've made. Even if Toskala and Gustavsson crap out, Joey MacDonald would have been a huge improvement in our goaltending last year.
Let's be conservative and assume the Leafs finish in the middle of the pack, picking 15th. You want to know what that list of players in the hypothetical trade above consists of? It's the #15 picks from 2000-2007 (I left out 2008 and 2009 since they're too early to judge). Not only would I trade any two of those players plus a 2nd rounder for Kessel; I'd happily trade all of those players and a 2nd rounder for Kessel. The only one who's had an impact was Radulov, who returned to the KHL two years ago.
What Burke understands is the true value of elite level talent. As others have pointed out, 21yr olds (and the age is crucial) who score 36 goals are incredibly rare. #15 picks, if you're lucky, are likely to be 3rd liners. Those players just aren't that hard to come by. Burke probably picked up three of them for nothing in the offseason (Hanson, Bozak, Wallin). 40 goal scorers are incredibly rare--and that how Kessel projects.
This isn't to say the trade couldn't go wrong. Maybe the goaltending sucks again, the injury bug strikes, the Leafs go down the drain, the pick is in the top 5 and the Bruins get an elite player. Maybe the Bruins just get incredibly lucky with one or more of the three picks. Maybe Kessel's career takes an unexpected turn for the worst. But sitting here today, and projecting how Kessel and the picks are likely to play out, I don't know how it's possible to say this is a bad deal.