Re: Phil Kessel
posted at 10/6/2013 8:52 AM EDT
Toews is the closest thing to Messier in terms of Hulk like ability to get better as the moment gets bigger. The more pressure he feels, the stronger he gets. Head to head, I'd take him 1000 times out of 1000 over Kessel.
Crosby, Tavares, Malkin, Ovechkin, Stamkos - Kessel's not even in that conversation. Zetterberg, Datsyuk are still better and more impactful players - so smart, so highly skilled, and play the full sheet. St. Louis is also a better all around player who makes the guys he plays with better. Kessel vs. Bergeron isn't even close. Build a team around Kessel and the conversation is all about what you have to get to fill the gaps - gotta have a playmaking C, gotta have size to create space for him, gotta have a solid D who can both backstop him when his rushes go awry and get the puck up to him quickly to capitalize on his speed, gotta have a good second line that can take some of the defensive pressure away.... Build a team around Bergeron and the conversation is about all the options open to you. You can play the high pick with the great skill but steep pro learning curve on his wing to get max benefit out of him. You can free up another line to be a pure offensive line because his line will get its points playing head to head against the opposition's best. Give me Bergeron every day.
The two on that list who Kessel compares best to are Nash and Kane. The Nash of the Olympics and some of the other best on best tourneys is a better player than the best I've ever seen of Kessel - that one would be close, but I'd probably go with Nash. He is an actual 40 goal scorer, which Kessel has never been. Kane, though - well, that's interesting. Kessel scores over 30 every year, and his goals/game average over his career is a little higher. Kane has only topped 30 once - twice if you count last year's 30 goal pace. But Kane's highest point total of 88 is better than Kessel's 82, and, of course, Kane has those two rings. In the playoffs, they're a dead wash, though Kane has a significantly larger body of work to show his clutch skills.
It's that kind of close where I wonder what happens if you flip them: put Kane in Toronto and Kessel in Chicago. I think Kessel would either be just as good as Kane has been in Chicago or he'd be gone in short order because neither Quenneville nor Toews would put up with the sulking and the famous attitude toward the gym. Kane probably does alright in Toronto, but I don't think he tops a point/game pace. So - if I had to pick one of the two, it might be Kessel on the basis of him being slightly larger. That's it.
Getlaf, Perry, Giroux, Eric Staal, Couture, Hall, Eberle, Hossa, Krejci (now as back then), Spezza - I'd take all of these guys ahead of both Kane and Kessel.
Are you not entertained?!?!