September 18, 2009

Phil Kessel is finally traded to the Maple Leafs: A high price to pay for the sniper they desperately needed; first and second round picks in 2010 and a first round pick in 2011.

posted by dfleming to hockey at 09:33 PM - 16 comments

Oh god. They've done it again. Traded their picks. Kessel is good (not that we have a centre for him.), but goddamn it we need those picks. Gotta build, baby build. You know for a genius Brian Burke sure seems like a lot of other Toronto GMs. Trading picks and signing free agents.

They'll be better this year. But goaltending still a huge question.

Boston should love this deal. Those picks will become like gold around the trade deadline if Boston is repeating last year's seasonal success. All for a guy who was likely to walk anyway (with similar compensation).

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 09:49 PM on September 18, 2009

They'll be better this year. But goaltending still a huge question.

Ideally, the low-risk, high-reward signing of Gustafsson is dipping their toes into those waters. He, the college signings last year and a 21 year old Kessel, provide building blocks which avoid the draft and still bring in youth to this team.

posted by dfleming at 11:24 PM on September 18, 2009

The way I see it, this is a pretty good deal for Burke. Kessel is clearly a first rounder, he was picked 5th overall, and has played at a high level and he is only 22 or something. So, if he was magically in the draft this year, you would pick him.

So that's worth one of the 1st round picks.

Then, any first rounder you pick this year you should reasonably expect that player to spend two years before making the NHL, and maybe another year before making an impact. Think, say, Ryan Kesler's career. Some players take longer, some less, some never make it. I am going to say, for this second 1st round pick, the Leaves are getting the use of the player they would otherwise pick but getting that use 3 or 4 years before they would get the use otherwise. (these two players turn out to be one player, Kessel, after three years, if you see what I mean, but before then Kessel embodies both. The second pick you give up just warps the space time continuum.

So the deal becomes, in essence, Kessel for a first rounder, plus 3 years of Kessel, plus subtraction of uncertainty about any other pick, for another first rounder and second rounder. In a league where rental players routinely command a first rounder, that's pretty good as a "rental fee" for use of a player three years early.

It's only in three years minimum do you start to miss what was given away.

Now, at that point, if you suck, then you really really miss it because the second first rounder in 2011 is a top five pick (I'm ignoring the first first rounder because you would pick Kessel with that anyway -- any player is a pick, essentially, unless you find them under a rock).

But Burke may be thinking two things: 1. Everything in his experience is, lousy teams he manages get better. So the pick is a diminishing asset. 2. if Leaves still really really suck in three years, then the media there will have eaten his ass many times over anyway.

This only works if (a) Kessel is young (he is) and (b) good enough you'd pick him in the first round (he is) and (c) plays at the level you would expect from a first round pick (realistic expectations only count here: anything better than "above average" is good for a first round draft pick when you think back through a teams draft history. Look at the 2006 and 2007 drafts, which will be like what the Leaves will look back on in 2013, say. Look at the % of superstar quality players in, say the top 10 picks. Not that overwhelming (of course, the 2007 class is still developing somewhat, but that's my point -- getting a hamburger today vs the possibility of two hamburgers on Tuesday is sometimes a good deal)).

Anyway, I like this deal for Burke. I would usually say, yes, don't trade your draft picks but draft picks are not some guaranteed thing, they are a probability, and if you view that probability as declining through time because you will make the team better, then you value them accordingly.

It will, though, be really interesting to see if Kessel turns out to be another beneficiary of Marc Savard's quiet genius or if he can do it on his own. I think he will, and will improve. As I think Murray noted, he got his 35 odd goals on only 16 minutes of ice time. Give him another 25% ice time and all the PP time, and that alone should account for the loss of Savard.

Burke is a blowhard, but he is a smart hockey guy. He made the Canucks much much better in his time here and he did it without breaking the future. Think the Sedins deal where he gave up McCabe to move up and nab the twins #2 and #3---- the first and fourth picks that year were Patrik Stefan and Pavl Brendl -- both seen at the time as "can't miss" prospects.

posted by rumple at 11:49 PM on September 18, 2009

All good points to be sure, but I still feel that this team needs depth. Kessel, as a winger, needs a centre which we don't have. Grabovski is a shoot first player and the only legitimate talent with the potential exception of Kadri - which is a bit of a crapshoot to say the least - and I think Kessel is a piece of the puzzle. Except the puzzle gets harder to fit unless we develop a depth of talent that supports the Kessel-like acquisitions.

For the record I am very drunk right now and this took 15 minutes to write and edit.


posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 01:40 AM on September 19, 2009

Unrestricted Free Agent centres for the 2010-2011 season include: Patrick Marleau Marc Savard (!!)

I completely agree that draft picks shouldn't be tossed around like confetti. But these days, there are very different forces at work in the NHL -- the salary cap drives "non-hockey" trades, and UFAs can fill gaps. If you have a currently-crap team like the Leaves, you may be able to afford a few UFAs. To make the non-hockey trades, you need draft picks and the willingness to use them (cf. the Kessel trade). Choose the UFAs wisely and spend the draft picks wisely, and then get lucky in the draft.

posted by rumple at 02:22 AM on September 19, 2009

For the record I am very drunk right now and this took 15 minutes to write and edit.

Of course, this was posted at 1:40. I'll bet Greg Maddox and Ron Artest *and* TO paid our pal Weedy a visit at 2:01.

posted by NoMich at 08:10 AM on September 19, 2009


Exactly. Without that rule, I'm blowing through my computer book author fortune on coke and shacking up with tranny hookers in Vegas. With it, I'm a responsible and God-fearing family man.

posted by rcade at 09:59 AM on September 19, 2009

Because you don't rent a room for the trannies, just go Eddie Murphy-style?

Phil Kessel is a talent. The kind of talent that will frustrate the shit out of you. Hopefully the Leafs have a plethora of guys who will dig in the corners for pucks, because Phil won't. I can't believe the Bruins have let go a young wing with 50-goal potential and I'm just sort of "Meh" about it.

Then again, I'm just sort of "Meh" about the Bruins. I tried to give them up for a few years in protest of the Jacobs' reign. Obviously they heard that and made some changes before I was fully cold-turkey.

posted by yerfatma at 10:21 AM on September 19, 2009

All last season, the Bruins fans I knew were walking around with a gleam in their eyes.

I finally said to one of them: "You look happy. Your team has some players."

He answered: "That's true, but it's more that every day that goes by, we get closer to the likelihood of Mr. Jacobs having the coronary occlusion that we've been waiting for all these years."

posted by beaverboard at 10:35 AM on September 19, 2009

Can't say this has caught anybody off guard. If and when the only question most of the off season. When Toronto traded with the BlackHawks a few weeks ago for a draft pick this was a forgone conclusion. Still Toronto can't field a competitive team this season and possibly next as well. They'll be facing salary cap issues sooner rather than later with a phelthora of restricted FA's in their pipeline. It's the Matts Sudin deja vue gottya from the early 90's for this Leafs squad except Kessels not the Super Talent Sudin was and his 36 Goals last season will be hard to reproduce on a Leafs squad lacking significant offensive depth and play making Forwards to bang pucks on goal. I give Bruins Brass kudo's on this one. They played the Leafs like Grandpa's favorite fiddle!

posted by skydivedad at 04:53 PM on September 19, 2009

From Toronto's standpoint, this could be a very good trade. If you put Kessel on the ice with a decent center who can spring him from center ice, he will score. The trick is to put his line on against checking lines with 3 guys whose hands are like stone and have no idea what the goal looks like. Under these conditions, Kessel will have a great +/-; otherwise, you are going to have to treat the Toronto goaltenders for serious lamp burns on the back of the neck.

What Boston saw in Kessel was a pure scorer, but one who was not good coming back on defense, nor was he the type to "muck" it a bit in front of the net. Claude Julien tried to get him to play both ways by limiting his ice time, and even sitting him down in the playoffs against Montreal in 2008. All it did was to harden Kessel's attitude that if he were to play for Boston, it would be for outrageous money. I feel that Toronto made a good deal, but for too high a price.

On edit, There is some concern about replacing Kessel's scoring. Not to worry, Boston outscored the opposition by nearly 1 goal per game last season. They did this without a full season of Marco Sturm and Mark Recchi. Add to this the increased experience of Milan Lucic and David Krejci, as well as an improved 4th line with Begin, Thornton, and Bitz, and they'll be just fine.

posted by Howard_T at 05:43 PM on September 19, 2009

They'll be better this year. But goaltending still a huge question.

Can't see the improvement you're talking about this year over last. You can just see the way it's going to go down. Vesa Toskala starts the season as starter under the tremendous pressure of playing for a terrible Leafs team in the middle of hockey's Mecca. Already on a short leash with his coach, and a highly-touted rookie that was the prized off-season acquisition for an ego-driven GM, Toskala wilts under the pressure. In steps said rookie, facing no pressure after the Leafs have already shown how weak they are, and Calder nomination ensues. Haha... in your dreams, Leafs fanatics!

But seriously, the Leafs will probably struggle this year with a serious lack of scoring depth, but they do have a stockpile of talented d-men that could help keep the goal totals down. If Gustavsson gets a chance, he could impress. The "Monster", as he's known, is coming off a monster season in the Swedish Elite League, where he was the top goalie during the regular season and continued into the playoffs leading Farjestad to a championship letting in only 14 goals in 13 playoff games with 5 shutouts.

It's got to be a tremendous burden being a Leafs fan, you guys are a patient and beleaguered lot. If Kessel can ever make a difference for you it's not going to be until the later half of his contract. Let's see how patient you guys really are.

posted by skydivedad at 06:41 PM on September 19, 2009

Rumple, interesting but I don't think I like the deal as much as you. Yes, Kessel may be equivalent to a first round pick, I didn't see that as the exchange that was made. Part of the deal was the immediate 5 year extension at $5M or so per year, to me they traded those draft picks for the right to sign a free agent a bit below market price. I don't think that package of picks is worth the exclusive rights to negotiate for Kessel's next contract.

posted by deflated at 11:48 PM on September 19, 2009

Kessel is a first round draft pick, he is not someone who "may be equivalent to one". Unless you are finding diamonds outside the draft, it is reasonable IMHO to consider a 21 year old impact player chosen in the first round as still equivalent to (at least) a first round pick. So my point is that the other draft pick is to rent such a player until the pick you trade would have been ready to play for you. I set that at first round pick = 3 years of rent.

Kessel wasn't going to be a UFA, he would have been RFA and it would have cost them a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd as compensation. Maybe that would have been smarter - but consider that Burke is personally predisposed against signing RFAs because of the Dustin Penner thing. So he spends another 1st and saves a 3rd. It's a bit less than giving up another first rounder in order to avoid the RFA offer sheet, but I see what you mean.

The commenter hendy100 here makes a similar point -- after listing the top 100 draft picks of the past 10 years, he draws this conclusion:
"Of the 98 possible candidates (minus Bourdon and Kessel), I would have selected 22 players instead of Phil Kessel (22.45%). [Thornton, Marleau, Luongo, Lecavalier, Sedin, Sedin, Heatley, Gaborik, Kovalchuk, Spezza, Nash, Bouwmeester, Fleury, E. Staal, Vanek, Phaneuf, Ovechkin, Malkin, Crosby, E. Johnson, Toews, Backstrom]

What does that mean? How does that translate with two top 10 picks?

Chances of selecting two players better than Kessel = .2245 x .2245 = 5.04%

Chances of selecting one player better than Kessel = 2 x .2245 x (1-.2245) = 34.82%

Chances of selecting no players better than Kessel = (1-.2245) x (1-.2245) = 60.14%"
I think what the "build through the draft" folks miss is just how much of a crapshoot the hockey draft is. For every recent story like Chicago, there are perennial doormats who suck at drafting/developing players (historically, the Leaves being the worst offenders). So its not like one is comparing a gamble by trading for Kessel versus a sure thing of building through the draft. That poster makes a pretty interesting case -- 60% chance of picking two players in the top 10 of the next two drafts, neither of whom is as good as Kessel. Even if he is off and it is a 30% chance, that is still pretty significant, not even accounting for Kessel is in Toronto now, the other player(s) come along in 2-4 years. On the other hand, he is only looking at 10 years of top 10 picks, if the Leaves start drafting around 15th then the odds decline accordingly.

posted by rumple at 12:50 AM on September 20, 2009

Thanks for linking to that comment, rumple. The percentage is interesting.

(The writer of the article missed the Chris Chelios trade - two first rounds picks to Chicago. I think (according to that Chicago chose Steve McCarthy and Peter Munro - and together they did not play as many games for Chicago as Chelios has played for Detroit.)

posted by Philfromhavelock at 08:55 AM on September 20, 2009

Time to go low brow

Phil Kessel's nut to trade ratio is now even at 1

posted by Demophon at 08:44 AM on September 21, 2009

You're not logged in. Please log in or register.