Kessel signs 5 year, $27-million deal with Leafs

Phil Kessel is now a Toronto Maple Leaf, but it’s going to be a few weeks before fans get a look at him.

Multiple media sources reported Friday night the Leafs and Boston Bruins made a deal that sent the 21-year-old forward, who is currently injured, north of the border in exchange for two first-round draft picks (one in 2010 and another in 2011) and a second round draft pick in 2010.

The Leafs then signed Kessel to a five-year contract worth $27 million (US).

“Phil is a dynamic player and a solid kid,” said Leafs general manager Brian Burke. “It’s a very important day for the Leafs and we’re very pleased that Phil Kessel’s coming to Toronto tomorrow.”

Speculation of a trade for the U.S.-born sniper began before the 2009 National Hockey League draft when Kessel was rumoured to be on the way to Toronto in exchange for defenceman Tomas Kaberle and a draft pick.

The deal didn’t go through because of a miscommunication over the pick. Boston was unable to sign the young star in the off- season.

New York Rangers and Nashville Predators were also said to have shown interest in Kessel, who scored 36 goals last season.

“It’s taken a long time [to get him] and a lot of effort, but I think it’s worth it.” Burke said. “This is a statement to our players that we intend to be competitive right away and he gives us a dimension we need.”

Kessel will be sidelined until at least November as he is recovering from rotator cuff surgery.

“We want our fans to understand that he is recovering from shoulder surgery and we don’t expect to see him for a while,” Burke said.

“He is skating but can’t take any contact or shoot so it will be a while before our fans see him but he brings tremendous foot speed and scoring ability.”

The native of Madison, Wisconsin was drafted fifth overall by the Bruins in 2006.