Tag: Sidney Crosby

Phil Kessel

Kessel on moving on from Toronto: ‘It’s a different world there’


After six seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Phil Kessel is looking forward to a fresh start. The 27-year-old was dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins as part of a multi-player trade on Wednesday.

Kessel appeared in 446 regular season games with the Leafs scoring 181 goals and 394 points.

“It should be different. It’s a different world there,” Kessel told Dkonpittsburghsports.com. “Obviously, I’m looking forward to this and having a fresh start. I’m actually really excited about that part of it.

“Toronto was a place I loved, and it’s not easy leaving that, even with everything else. That’s the first thought. And then after that, I just see this as an opportunity, a great opportunity to be part of something special in Pittsburgh.”

Kessel is especially excited at the prospect of playing with the talented mix of forwards in Pittsburgh.

“For it to be Pittsburgh … with everything that franchise has meant and two of the best players in the world there … I never would have thought I’d have the chance to play with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, to play on a team like the Penguins,” he said. “It’s just amazing. I’m so pumped.”

During his time in Toronto Kessel played in just one playoff series scoring four goals in six points during the Leafs first round series with the Boston Bruins in 2013. A return to postseason hockey is something the Madison, WI native is looking forward to.

“That’s huge. Obviously, when you have a chance to play on a great team, you’re thrilled. Being in Toronto, I got to play in one playoffs in all my years there,” Kessel said. “But that’s the best time of the year, right? Playoff hockey. Hopefully, I’ll get to play in many in Pittsburgh.”

Kessel also believes his game is suited for Pens’ coach Mike Johnston’s system and that he’ll fit in well.

“I think it’ll mesh well. I like to score goals, but I also like to pass the puck,” he said. “In today’s game, you need to have options when you have the puck. And with defensemen like we have joining the rush in Mike’s system, and those guys are great players, yeah, that’ll work with my game. I take a lot of pride in my ability to work with the options I’ve got.”

For those wondering, the Pens and Leafs meet for the first time on Oct. 17 in Pittsburgh. Kessel will make his return to Toronto on Oct. 31.

Discuss: Where’s the best fit for Alex Semin?

Carolina Hurricanes v Columbus Blue Jackets

Alex Semin isn’t the only NHLer who’s been accused of wasting his God-given talent.

Two others — Phil Kessel and Zack Kassian — were traded yesterday. The latter vowed today to figure out in Montreal.

But Semin remains unsigned. Earlier this week, he was bought out by the Hurricanes, whose GM proceeded to say of the 31-year-old winger: “He did not have that high compete level, for whatever reason.”

He didn’t score many goals either. Just six of them in 57 games last season, while seeing his ice time fall to an average of 15:55, the lowest since his rookie campaign over a decade ago.

In 2009-10, Semin scored 40 goals for the Capitals. He has 238 tallies in 638 career NHL games.

Hence, his agent’s claim that there was immediate interest in his client.

For a cheap, short-term prove-it deal, signing Semin has the potential to pay off.

Maybe he joins a contending team, unlike Carolina, and rediscovers his enthusiasm.

Maybe he has a little more puck luck. His shooting percentage dipped to 6.5 percent last season, whereas his career rate is almost double that (12.8).

Maybe he’s a complete bust and at least he was cheap.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are still looking for a winger. Imagine Semin and Phil Kessel on the same team with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin?

The Florida Panthers could use a scoring winger, though there may be a concern about Semin’s attitude around all those talented young players.

The Devils need to score more.

Any other teams come to mind?

‘It’s hard to find players like Phil Kessel’

Phil Kessel

For all the criticisms of Phil Kessel — and we’re not saying they’re all without merit — here are some facts:

— He has 247 goals in 668 career NHL games. Among active players, that’s the 29th-most goals. And he’s only 27.

— Over the last five seasons, only Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos, and Corey Perry have scored more goals than Kessel. And Kessel’s center has mostly been Tyler Bozak. In Pittsburgh, it’ll be Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin.

That’s why Penguins GM Jim Rutherford is excited to have acquired Kessel, whom he considers “right there” in a class with Ovechkin and Stamkos.

“It’s hard to find players like Phil Kessel,” Rutherford told TSN.

Not only did Rutherford get the player he wanted without giving up Derrick Pouliot or Olli Maatta, two young defensemen the Pens will need even more now, he convinced the Leafs to eat $1.25 million per year of Kessel’s salary.

Without that concession by the Leafs, the deal couldn’t have happened, Rutherford said, noting that the Penguins already have Crosby, Malkin, Kris Letang, and Marc-Andre Fleury signed to big, long-term contracts.

Oh, and Rutherford isn’t done yet. He still hopes to add another winger, as well as a fourth-line center.