Back in September 2009, the Maple Leafs traded for All-Star winger Phil Kessel in a deal that was quite lopsided and gave the Boston Bruins three prospects including center Tyler Seguin and defensemen Jared Knight and Dougie Hamilton. Looking back its safe to say the Leafers lost that one by a country mile. The deal would be the equivalent of you trading a Playstation 3 and a copy of the newly released EA Sports game NHL 13 in exchange for a copy of NHL 12, it’s a deal that seemed good at the time, but once NHL 12 gets outdated you feel ashamed of yourself…as for why you threw in the Playstation 3 on top…well…ya got me there!
Of course it is a lot harder to say you should not have mortgaged the future in hindsight as a general manager because the future is always an uknown variable, and when you’re the GM in Leafs Nation it is a lot easier to justify acquiring and All-Star and giving fans instant gratification than it is to stockpile draft picks and wait for later. With that said, some fans out there argue that even trading Kessel for Seguin straight up is a 50/50 deal. Again, Seguin had not yet played an NHL game when the trade went down. However, now that we are a few years removed from the deal let’s analyze what the two players have accomplished to this point in their careers (NOTE: Although it’s been three calender years since the trade, we’re only looking at two hockey seasons here):
Tyler Seguin – Boston Bruins Center
- 2010-11 74 Games, 11 Goals, 11 Assists, 22 Points, Minus 4
- 2011-12 81 Games, 29 Goals, 38 Assists, 67 Points, Plus 34
Phil Kessel – Toronto Maple Leafs Winger
- 2010-11 82 Games, 32 Goals, 32 Assists, 64 Points Minus 20
- 2011-12 82 Games, 37 Goals, 45 Assists, 82 Points Minus 10
I know what you’re thinking, the numbers are obviously slanted in Kessel’s favor but he’s got more experience and he got more playing time on the top line than did Seguin (at least in Seguin’s rookie campaign). This is all very true! Which is why I myself would declare Seguin the better player to have overall. Here’s a couple of reasons why:
- Seguin is already at the point where he is capable of being a top center on a contending team, and he’s only going to get better over the next couple of years.
- The salary cap hit on Seguin’s new six-year contract extension is about $5.75 million, which is comparable to Kessel
- Kessel’s plus/minus rating has been a plus only once during his six years in the NHL. Although you could argue that the current Bruins lineup is better than what it was when Kessel played in Boston, Seguin seems like much more of a two-way player than Kessel was in his first two seasons.
- Seguin has more playoff experience than does Kessel at this point, including a Stanley Cup championship. Although Seguin was not a major factor during that run, there is no denying what having a $50,000 championship ring on your hand can do for your confidence and your ability to increase your level of play when it matters.
Looking back on the trade of course its easy to say that the better player to have right now is Tyler Seguin, but I must say, this is one deal that had me squirming in my seat the moment I heard about it. Yes I was excited that we acquired Kessel and would have a legitimate star on our roster to replace the legendary Mats Sundin, but I think I echo the majority of people’s thoughts at the time when I say that it would have been nice if the Leafs just once could look at the long run instead of trying to patchwork the team together with veterans and free agents.
Its not as if my intention is to knock Brian Burke’s decisions. After all this is the guy who brought in Joffrey Lupul and Jake Gardiner in exchange for not a whole heck of a lot, but the next time we have a top five draft pick, I would suggest not trading it…unless of course you’re getting James Van Riemsdyk for Luke Schenn… in that case sign me up!
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