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United States, NY • United States • 25 Years Old • Male
Article taken from:
New York Islanders Net - http://islesnet.blogspot.com

Although the dog days of summer are here, it has been quite easy to continue the hockey talk considering the number of free agents that are still available, and the numerous trade winds that all seem to be blowing in the New York Islanders direction. Obviously, as I mentioned in a previous article, the Islanders cap space ($23.265 million), and the fact that they are about $6 million under the salary cap floor, helps to contribute to the larger than normal talk about the Islanders.

While I have already addressed unrestricted free agent players, such as Alex Tanguay in his own article, and players such as Alexei Kovalev, Todd Bertuzzi, and several others in other articles, I will change my focus in this write-up. What I plan to do in this article is to focus on the area of restricted free agents, specifically Phil Kessel of the Boston Bruins. While signing restricted free agents brings about other stipulations, such as the loss of draft picks in proportion to the level of the salary, it is sometimes worth giving up those draft picks if the player is of high quality. While some will argue that the use of offer sheets is a low-ball move, it is part of the newly agreed upon Collective Bargaining Agreement, and therefore it is fair game to all parties involved.

Phil Kessel was drafted fifth overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft by the Boston Bruins (same year as Okposo, and just two picks before him). Born October 2nd, 1987, Phil Kessel is currently only 21 years old and is without a doubt one of the budding stars in the National Hockey League. At 6 feet tall, and weighing in at 180 pounds, Kessel still has the ability to put on some extra weight, however, he has pretty much topped out in terms of height.

Kessel, a right-handed shot, is blessed with not only a wicked wrist shot, but he also has quite a hard slap shot. His wrist shot, which is also deadly accurate, was his weapon of choice when victimizing opposing goalies this past season and throughout his career. On the power play, Kessel has also been quite the deadly force. His contributions helped Boston to have one of the top power plays in the league last year. Furthermore, Kessel’s skating is considered one of the top aspects of his game. Blessed with great speed and acceleration, as well as the ability to turn on a dime, Kessel would be a great fit in Gordon’s system. Before anyone asks, Kessel was drafted in 2006 and made the Bruins line-up that same year; therefore, he never played full-time for Gordon in Providence. If he had been given the opportunity to play in Providence for Gordon, he would have been a perfect fit for the overspeed system. I use the term “full-time” because he only appeared in two games in Providence when coming back from injury.

Just for the stake of laying out numbers, so that they can be analyzed, here are Kessel’s numbers over the past three seasons in the NHL:

2006-2007: 70 GP, 11 G, 18 A, 29 Pts

2007-2008: 82 GP, 19 G, 18A, 37 Pts

2008-2009: 70GP, 36 G, 24 A, 60 Pts

Kessel’s playoff performance this year should also be duly noted, as in 11 games he posted 6 goals and 5 assists for 11 points, and was a +7. Pretty damn good numbers all around for a 21-year-old kid who still is going to develop further!

What does any of this have to do with the Islanders? The Boston Bruins, last year’s Eastern Conference Champions, are currently running into some salary cap issues. The NHL and NHLPA have agreed upon a salary cap of $56.8 million in the upcoming season, and word around the league is that the salary cap could drop as low as $52 million for the 2010-2011 season. Currently, the Bruins have approximately $54 million locked up in salary for the upcoming 2009-2010 season, and have yet to resign restricted free agent Phil Kessel, who was their leading goal scorer. There is also no way that Kessel is going to accept a salary of $2.5 million in order to stick around with the Bruins.

The New York Islanders, who are currently $23 million dollars under the salary cap, and about $6 million under the salary floor for the upcoming season, do have the ability to throw around some money, and in fact, have to throw around some money in order to reach that salary floor by the beginning of the season.

What am I getting at? Let me put it this way: Kessel is a 21 year old player who is not only very fast, but a future first-line and perennial all-star who plays both sides of the puck extremely well. What are the Islanders missing in their organization? Exactly this kind of player! While Kessel is listed as a center, he enjoyed a highly successful season playing winger on Krejci’s line, and playing as a winger on the top power play for the Bruins. For the New York Islanders, he or Tavares could shift to wing while the other plays center on the top line after the departure of Doug Weight, and the two of them would be quite the dynamic duo. Utilizing Bailey as a second-line center, and having Kyle Okposo and Sean Bergenheim in the mix as well, and the Islanders would finally have quite the formidable top-6.

What do the Islanders have to do to get him? In my opinion, Garth Snow should sit and wait until around September 10th. At this point in time, if Kessel is still available as a restricted free agent (he did not file for arbitration), Garth Snow should throw an offer sheet at Phil Kessel, somewhere in the area of 6 years at $4 million per year. At that price, Kessel is well worth the money, as he contributes tremendously to a team in all facets of the game, and the Islanders could finally get their hands on that ever-elusive high-scoring winger/center. I do believe he would take a contract like this, as well, considering the fact with a decreasing salary cap, contracts will start to be given for smaller sums of money. Plus, it is a six year security leading him into the prime of his career!

The Boston Bruins would have approximately seven days to match the offer, or they would have to let Kessel sign with the Islanders and receive compensatory picks from the Islanders in exchange for Kessel’s services. The reason why I believe the Bruins would not match the offer is because, if they chose to match the offer, they would only have approximately two weeks in order to dump salary from their roster, and it’s doubtful any team in the Eastern Conference would be willing to help them out. Furthermore, many teams would be unable to help them out due to their own cap issues that close to the start of the season.

If this were to happen, there would obviously be somewhat of a painful price to pay. Going to the Boston Bruins would be the New York Islanders first round pick, second round pick, and third round pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Sounds like a lot, right?

To keep it in perspective, the 2010 NHL Entry Draft is considered to be one of the weakest drafts in the last twenty years, and some have even gone as far to say that it is even weaker than the 1999 draft. It is believed that there will be three players at the top of the draft who are considered excellent prospects, and then a significant drop off from there to players who will take several years to develop. While Taylor Hall, another great center from the OHL, will be at the top of the upcoming draft class, I believe that the Islanders will have a much better season than they did last year with the addition of Tavares, the maturation of Okposo, Bailey, and Gervais, and the presence of a solid goaltending tandem in Roloson and DiPietro. A better season would mean that the Islanders would have a very small chance of landing one of those top three picks, and could therefore consider that first pick to be more expendable. As for the second and third round picks in a weak draft, I would not mind giving them up for a player of Kessel’s stature, and I am usually very conservative when it comes to keeping draft picks rather than trading them away.

The question I pose to you: Do you believe that Phil Kessel is worth a mediocre first round pick, a second round pick, and a third round pick in what is considered to be one of the worst drafts in 20 years? It is essentially a trade I am asking you to analyze, so please feel free to do so in the comments section or send me an email at [email][email protected][/email].

My opinion: I would do it in a heartbeat. This is what the line-up would look like next year:

Kessel – Weight – Tavares

Bergenheim – Bailey – Okposo

Comeau – Nielsen – Hunter

Enforcer (trade) – Park - Jackman

Much better than last year, in my opinion!

July 15, 2009 12:47 PM ET | Delete
He'll be with the Leafs by August 15th, Boston will take Kaberle.Buh-bye.
July 15, 2009 12:51 PM ET | Delete
I definitely agree that the Isles should throw an offer sheet at someone. The reason I believe the Bruins would match is that I don't believe Kessel is coming back until November from his injury and it wouldn't be until then that the Bruins would have to make room for him under the cap, and they may have a different injury by then anyway, or they could send a couple of players to the AHL to make room like the Flyers did last year when briere came back.
July 15, 2009 2:51 PM ET | Delete
The Islanders are not under the cap at all. The Islanders will not make any offer sheets or trades, as long as Wang is losing money he will not spend.
July 15, 2009 3:05 PM ET | Delete
Boston has to match any offer in order to receive compensation... and frankly, very few players choose to change teams when the offer sheet is matched.
July 15, 2009 4:48 PM ET | Delete
July 15, 2009 4:49 PM ET | Delete
The Islanders are NOT under the cap. Tavares' signing will hit the cap at around $3.75 million and you still have the qualifying offers of Hillen and Comeau along with Thompson's arbitration. By the time all is said and done, the Isles will be at the minimum cap figure.
July 15, 2009 5:55 PM ET | Delete
Above or below the cap? Makes no difference. Make the Kid an offer The Bruins have to Refuse. 21 with upside! Its a no brainer. But remember Snow drafted 2 goalies in a Goalie weak draft this year. He may try to STOCKPILE draft picks for 2010. The weakest draft in years
July 15, 2009 8:30 PM ET | Delete
medicore first round pick? you mean 1-10?
July 15, 2009 9:34 PM ET | Delete
July 15, 2009 11:01 PM ET | Delete
Great idea, but when are the Isles ever aggressive with these things? I'm afraid it's just another dream for the Isles to add a player like this. Never happen, unfortunately.
July 15, 2009 11:12 PM ET | Delete
To A-mar: The Bruins do not have to match the offer to receive compensation. They had to qualify him, which they did. If they match the offer they keep Kessel.Anyways I do beleive there will be a sign and trade deal with Toronto as Chiarelli and Burke are very good friends. Kaberle would be a great fit in Boston and Kessel will give Toronto the much needed scoring help they need. Plus more speed to burn. But I could be wrong. Go Saskatoon Islanders!
July 15, 2009 11:58 PM ET | Delete
You want Riley Cote, you can have him for absolutely nothing.
July 16, 2009 5:09 AM ET | Delete
My understanding was that under the CBA they had to match to receive compensation. They have to qualify for their RFA to maintain that status... no qualifying offer, he becomes a UFA
July 16, 2009 10:21 AM ET | Delete
they decide if they want to match the offer (thus keeping the player) or they can decide to let the player walk and receive compensation for him. Because the player is a restricted free agent, the team that owns his rights have the final say. If Boston chooses to match, Kessel has no choice but to stay with them, he can't choose to go to Long Island if the Bruins are willing to make the same offer.
July 16, 2009 1:10 PM ET | Delete
Theres no such thing as a mediocre 1st round pick. Kessel doesnt want to play for the Islanders....nobody does....My guess is he goes to Toronto or The Wild
July 16, 2009 1:33 PM ET | Delete
Jordan, are you a Leafs fan?
July 16, 2009 1:39 PM ET | Delete
Leafs and BlueJackets yes....thats not why I said nobody wants to play there though. Its just a fact. Streit was the only guy with talent who chose your team. Heatley wont, Smyth left when traded, Komisarek had a chance and said no, Tanguay will probably go elsewhere too. With Tavares you have a chance to build around, but I doubt anyone will still want to come. Sorry, but its the truth....
July 17, 2009 4:16 PM ET | Delete
The 2011 is the draft class that is considered to be weak not 2010.
July 18, 2009 3:18 PM ET | Delete
July 18, 2009 3:34 PM ET | Delete
Another reason for Kessel could be the fact that brother Blake is in the Islanders organization. Could be intriguing to possibly play with his brother in a few years.
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