The Pittsburgh Penguins shook some things up this week by trading for Phil Kessel.
July 1 signaled the opening of the NHL free agency period. While teams scrambled to throw money at a pretty thin crop of free agents, the Penguins stole headlines with a multiple-player deal with Toronto.READ MORE: COVID-19 Vaccinations In Pittsburgh: AHN Administers Thousands Of Shots On Saturday
Pittsburgh sent Nick Spaling, prospects Scott Harrington and Kasperi Kapanen and their 2016 third round draft pick to the Maple Leafs for Phil Kessel, Tyler Biggs and Tim Erixon.
However, should the Penguins qualify for the playoffs this season, Toronto would also get a 2016 first round pick. Pittsburgh would also get Toronto’s 2016 second-round pick in the deal.
If the Penguins miss the playoffs, the Maple Leafs would receive Pittsburgh’s 2017 first round pick in exchange for their own second round pick.
If the Penguins miss the playoffs for the next two years, Toronto would receive Pittsburgh’s 2017 second round pick. In this scenario, the Penguins would not get a pick back from Toronto.
So, how do people feel about the trade?
Many Penguins fans seem happy to have a sniper like Kessel playing with Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin.
On the other hand, many fans in Toronto are pretty happy to see Kessel go.
Here’s a look at some of the reactions from Toronto fans and media in the aftermath of the Kessel trade.
The Toronto Star Cartoon
— TorontoStar (@TorontoStar) July 3, 2015
The Toronto Star released this cartoon on Friday. One of the alleged knocks on Kessel has been his conditioning during his career.
However, he’s one of the fastest guys in the league and will certainly bring that element to the Penguins.
As for the Star, well…they seem happy to be rid of him.
“The Awkward Marriage”
TSN produced a 3:09 second video that doesn’t exactly paint Kessel in the greatest of light.
While they credit Kessel as being the most gifted Maple Leafs player during his six years in Toronto, the video spent a good amount of time focusing on all the negatives.
“Being the best player on the Toronto Maple Leafs requires a certain type of personality. One who understands and appreciates what it means to be the center of attention in the world’s biggest hockey market.”
Wait for it…
“Phil Kessel seemed to resent the attention and scrutiny that came with that role, especially when it came time to face the media.”
The video also leaves out the glaring reality that his supporting cast for much of his time in Toronto, wasn’t very good.
That may have a slight effect on his inability to deliver a Stanley Cup to the city for the first time since 1967.
93-7 The Fan spoke with Toronto Sun columnist Steve Simmons about the trade on Thursday.
Earlier this week, Simmons wrote a column likening Kessel to a disease that plagued the Maple Leafs.
The column actually got him ripped apart by ESPN’s Keith Olbermann.
Watch that below:
So, based on all of that, it’s kind of surprising that Simmons spoke favorably of Kessel to 93-7 The Fan.
“I expect Phil Kessel to score somewhere between 40 and 50 goals if he gets to play with Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin,” Simmons said. “He is an immensely skilled and talented offensive player who, when paired with the right people in the right circumstances can be electric.”
As for the knock on Kessel’s conditioning, Simmons had this to say:
“That’s kind of Phil – he’s not a guy who skates a lot in the offseason, he’s not a guy who gets himself into tremendous shape,” Simmons said. “He’s a freak. He’s a freak in that he can not necessarily train and not necessarily be the most conditioned guy on your team – and you ask a guy to skate 15 feet for the puck, he’s the fastest guy in the league. He has an incredible innate talent that is almost unexplainable.”
Listen to the full interview here:
Maple Leafs Super Fan Puts Things In Perspective
One of the biggest Toronto Maple Leafs fans and YouTube superstar, Steve Dangle, tried his best to sum up the Kessel era coming to a close.
Some notes from the highly animated and highly entertaining video:
Dangle points out that Kessel was the Leafs’ leading scorer for each of his six seasons in Toronto.
He also points out that Kessel was the best player on the Leafs for six years, despite not having a superstar center like say…Crosby or Malkin?
Then, Dangle has a message for Penguins fans:
“I know what I’ve seen on the ice. You are getting a player who has not missed an NHL game since returning from shoulder surgery…in 2009. He is automatically one of the fastest players on your team, if not the fastest, although…Sidney Crosby, right?”
“You’re getting one of the best goal scorers in the league. In a catastrophically bad season for him personally, on a catastrophically bad team, he scored 25 goals. If you’ve got a player who’s disappointed with 25 goals, you’ve probably got a good player.”
Don Cherry Likes The Trade For Both Teams
In addition to his incredible suits, Don Cherry is known for his no nonsense opinions about hockey and the National Hockey League.
Cherry took to Twitter to explain how the trade was good for both teams.
As for how Kessel will fit in with the Penguins, Cherry said, “He’ll be happy in Pittsburgh having Crosby and Malkin feeding him. He won’t be the guy with a gun to his head after every game. He’ll fit right in there.”
4) He can just play the game. I foresee him getting between 30 and 40 goals. I was really, really surprised the Maple Leafs didn’t have to — Don Cherry (@CoachsCornerCBC) July 2, 2015
For us here in Pittsburgh, Kessel arrives with a blank slate. The past is the past, and we’re looking forward to him helping the Penguins bring the Stanley Cup back to Pittsburgh!MORE NEWS: Stimulus Check Latest: Is A Fourth Relief Payment Coming?