by PuckStopsHere on 09/19/09 at 12:44 PM ET
The Boston Bruins were unable to sign restricted free agent Phil Kessel because they had left no salary cap room for the young star. The Bruins have traded him to the Toronto Maple Leafs for first round draft picks in 2010 and 2011 and a 2010 second round pick. This is most likely a good trade for the Maple Leafs. They get a proven young star and give up nothing immediately.
Boston is a good team now. They finished first in the East Conference last season. Their best window to win the Stanley Cup is right now. They need to strike now while Tim Thomas, Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard are in their primes. They won’t have this window open when these draft picks become NHL players (if they ever do).
Boston will have nobody to show for Phil Kessel this year. Likely, they will have nobody to show for him next year or the year after. It is most likely that that the first player they draft with these picks does not arrive as an NHL player until 2012 at the soonest. It is extremely likely none of them will be as good as Phil Kessel is now. It is almost certain that their best opportunity to win the Stanley Cup will have passed by then and Kessel will still be a better player than any they drafted. This is not the kind of trade a contending team wants to make. It has been forced by poor salary cap management.
Since Toronto signed Phil Kessel to a five year $27 million contract. This is not a significantly larger amount of money per year than they signed Michael Ryder last year. The salary cap space that should have been saved for Kessel was given to Ryder last year. Kessel would be a far more valuable use of the space.
Toronto gets Phil Kessel, who could very easily be their top scorer for the next several years. It isn’t a move that will make Toronto an instant contender, but it helps them gain some respectability. There are very few 36 goal scoring 21 year olds out there. Any team should be happy to add such a player. Boston has made a bad move to give him up.
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