Although their fans attempt to believe otherwise, the Toronto Maple Leafs have some major gaps in their team. For a while it was believed by some that Roberto Luongo was the answer to everything (for the record I never thought trading young talent for a 30 year old goalie with a 10 year contract was a good idea), but now that James Reimer and Ben Scrivens are proving to be solid in goal rumours are surfacing that Phil Kessel has made his way over to the trading block. This is a rumour I can get behind. Trading Phil Kessel is the best move the Leafs could make right now for 3 reasons:
Reason 1: He has value.
This reason is self-explanatory, the man will fetch a pretty penny. He is an asset, probably the best one that the Leafs have at the moment (besides Dion Phaneuf but that’s a whole other story). Many people will think of this as the number 1 reason he shouldn’t get traded, which brings me to the second reason.
Reason 2: He isn’t valuable to the Leafs.
If you take a look at Phil’s stats from last season the first thing you will see is an impressive 82 points. That’s all well and good until you look a little closer and see that he was also at a -10. If you really closely investigate you will also find that he was number one on the team and number 9 in the league for giveaways (and everyone thought Luke Schenn was a turnover machine). So what? Well let’s put it all together. His 82 points means that he was on the ice for at least 82 goals for, 10 of them don’t count towards his plus/minus, so to be at a -10 he would have been on the ice for at least 82 goals against (I say at least because we haven’t counted the goals he wasn’t directly involved in). You could dismiss it as not his fault, until you bring in the giveaways stat. With him being number 1 on the team you can safely conclude that he is causing more goals than he is scoring. This is a problem. You may be thinking that if other teams notice this won’t it drive down his value, but the truth is this is only a problem for the Leafs because he is their top scorer . Teams that have scorers with amazing numbers will not have an issue(Ilya Kovalchuk was number 1 in the league for regular season giveaways with 120 and his team made it to the Stanley Cup Finals); he will be getting far less ice time meaning far less giveaway opportunities.
Reason 3: Dave Nonis is new.
Those of you that are still skeptical are probably arguing if trading him is such a great idea why didn’t Burke do it a while ago. Well simply because he didn’t want to admit he was wrong. Burke made the trade for Kessel, trading him away would be admitting it was a huge mistake. Being new Nonis can trade him away without any implications that he did wrong.
I don’t know who exactly to trade him for but I do know that it is the best move for the team in the long run. I know a lot of people will disagree, but just watch and see what happens. You might be pleasantly surprised.