Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke appeared confident that he made the right choice in giving away the second overall pick in 2009 as part of the deal to land Phil Kessel.
Burke may be second-guessing himself after Thursday night’s game.
That pick ended up being Tyler Seguin, who notched his second goal of the season as the Boston Bruins defeated the Leafs 2-0 in the first-ever matchup between the traded parties.
While it’s still far too early to determine the real winner of the deal, the 18-year-old made his case with a great heads-up play resulting in the second goal of his young NHL career.
Seguin impressed with his ability to find the open ice and his knack for creating scoring lanes before snapping a quick shot between the legs of Toronto goalie Jonas Gustavsson for his squad’s second goal of the game.
The Brampton native looked electric all night and nearly had another tally late in the third period but had his breakaway chance thwarted by defenceman Brett Lebda.
Kessel, on the other hand, despite registering six shots and producing several scoring chances, finished the night with a minus-one rating – giving Round 1 to the Bruins and Seguin.
The Leafs’ leading scorer remains snake-bitten against his former club and now has just a single assist in seven games since being traded to the Leafs.
Seguin still on the bubble
Still, Kessel, who has seven goals in his first nine game, is on his way to becoming a premiere sniper in the NHL.
Seguin, despite his goal Thursday night, may be heading in a different direction.
With only two goals and two assists on his report card through his first seven contests, his numbers don’t exactly guarantee him a spot on the roster in the coming weeks.
Luckily for the youngster, he’s likely to stick around because of the lack of Boston prospects that are producing at a level high enough to challenge for Seguin’s roster spot.
The leading scorers on the team’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Providence Bruins, are Steven Kampfer and Maxime Sauve, with five and four points, respectively. Those numbers don’t exactly pose an immediate threat to Seguin’s job.
There’s also the old adage: ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ playing in the centre’s favour. With Seguin in the lineup, the Bruins are now 5-2-0, giving them one of the best winning percentages in the Eastern Conference.
While his numbers may not be rookie-of-the-year material, he should only continue to improve, so fans in Boston shouldn’t be surprised when the Bruins announce that their prized rookie begins his house hunting in Beantown.
Let’s not forget the 2006 NHL Entry Draft
While Seguin’s enter the NHL with more celebrity, Kessel may still be regarded as the better overall player.
The Bruins’ rookie was only passed up by the Oilers, who elected to instead take Taylor Hall with the first overall pick. Kessel was taken fifth in 2006.
While it would be easy to jump to the conclusion that Seguin is the better player based solely on draft position, the 2006 draft class was one of extreme depth.
Only four teams (Chicago, Pittsburgh, Washington and St. Louis) passed on Kessel, but they opted for Stanley Cup champion and Olympic gold medalist Jonathan Toews, Cup winner Jordan Staal, 100-point-scorer Niklas Backstrom and perennial Norris candidate Erik Johnson.
To say Kessel’s draft year was deep is a laughable understatement.
Only time will tell if the class of 2010 is better, but statistically speaking, the odds of having two Cup winners and an Olympic gold medallist in the first five picks will be tough to match.