On Sept. 18, 2009, the Toronto Maple Leafs shook up their organization in a massive way by acquiring Phil Kessel.
He quickly became the face of the franchise and stayed that way until his departure in 2015.
When the Leafs brought in Kessel, they gave up a massive cost. A first-round pick in 2010, and 2011, as well as a 2010 second-round pick was what Toronto gave up. The first-round picks turned into Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton, while the second-round pick turned into Jared Knight.
Kessel came in and produced very, very well for the Leafs fresh off a brand new five-year, $27-million contract.
In his first season, he put up 30 goals and 55 points in 70 games. Kessel’s production never faltered, as he continued to average over 30 goals per season for the rest of his time with the Leafs.
When his time in Toronto ended, Kessel has put up 394 points in 446 games — averaging 72 points per 82 games.
With rumours circulating for some time, Kessel was dealt by the Leafs on July 1, 2015 alongside Tyler Biggs, Tim Erixon and a conditional 2016 second-round draft pick (Kasper Bjorkqvist) to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
In return, the Leafs got back Kasperi Kapanen, Scott Harrington, Nick Spaling and conditional 2016 first (Sam Steel) and third-round (James Greenway) draft picks.
Were they worth it?
There’s no denying that Kessel was a key cog in the engine that drove the Leafs. He drove offence for the club, but they never did much when it comes to having success. But was the deal even worth it in the first place?
In the deal that brought Kessel to Toronto, the Leafs ended up losing out on both Seguin and Hamilton — both of whom have been extremely productive players during their time in the NHL.
Seguin has scored shy of a point-per-game and been a great driver of play. Hamilton, meanwhile, has been a solid defenceman everywhere he’s been and has truly come into his own in recent years with the Carolina Hurricanes.
Hindsight is of course 20/20, but if you could go back to 2009, would you make the Phil Kessel trade again?
On Twitter: @zjlaing