For the Bruins, the Phil Kessel trade won’t be complete until next June, when they will use Toronto’s 2011 first-round pick (if they don’t trade it before then). But tonight, the first stage of the deal will be showcased as Kessel squares off against Tyler Seguin, selected in Los Angeles with Toronto’s former first-round pick.
“Phil Kessel’s got seven goals,” said Toronto coach Ron Wilson. “Tyler’s got, what, one? That’s a trade you talk about five years from now when Tyler Seguin is a full-time NHL player. I don’t think Tyler, right now today, is nearly as good as Phil. Phil scored 30 goals last year. He’s probably going to score 40 to 50 goals this year. We’re happy with what we have right now, for sure.”
Through eight games, Kessel has seven goals and two assists while averaging 19:08 of ice time per game. Wilson noted that Kessel is in much better shape this year than last year, when he was coming off shoulder surgery.
Last season, Kessel didn’t score a goal against his former club. Zdeno Chara was deployed in a shutdown role against Kessel.
“I don’t want to stick it to them,” Kessel said. “I want to play well, right? Last year, I had a lot of chances. I just didn’t score.”
For Seguin, tonight’s game is not only a match against what could have been his current employer. It’s also his hometown team, as Seguin hails from Brampton, a suburb just west of Toronto.
“I’m not going to stand here and deny the fact that it’s a pretty special game for Tyler,” Claude Julien. “He’s excited about playing. At the same time, we look at Tyler as a guy we drafted in the first round. We look at him as a highly skilled player, a player we see having a great future in this organization. For us, it’s about utilizing him in the best way we can, helping him grow in that role, and putting him in the best position possible to succeed. That’s all I can do as a coach. His emotions are going to be running high tonight, no question about that. To a certain extent, if you see that becoming an issue, you’ve got to address it. He’s a pretty level-headed individual who’s been able to handle those situations pretty well so far. I don’t see it being an issue tonight.”