The day after Auston Matthews hit the 500 point mark, I can’t help but reflect on one of the key events that led to the Leafs drafting him. That event was the Phil Kessel trade.
The Kessel trade was largely panned considering the return was Kasperi Kapanen, 1st and 3rd round picks, Scott Harrington, and Nick Spaling. They also had to give up a 2nd, Tim Erixon and Tyler Biggs in the process. This trade was never as bad as it was criticized for being as Spaling, Harrington, Biggs, and Erixon largely cancel each other out, and the 2nd for 3rd is pretty insignificant as well, but Kapanen and a 1st for Kessel was not the ideal return for the franchise player of the moment.
What made up the gap for the Leafs was the benefit of not having Phil Kessel in their lineup. No matter what your opinion is of Phil Kessel, you have to concede that the 2015-16 Leafs had a better chance of picking up a few more wins with him in the Leafs lineup than they did without him. Moving the Leafs up in the standings at all would have taken away Toronto’s shot at Matthews. No Matthews means that Toronto wou …
Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation