Even with the Bruins in the midst of a three-game winning streak and getting ready for a big rematch with Atlanta tonight, it’s worth looking at how Toronto is faring and the status of that first-round pick the Bruins will receive to complete the Phil Kessel trade this June.
If you read Mark Spector’s column on Sportsnet.ca yesterday, you know that pick almost seems destined to be in the top five. Yes, the Kessel trade just keeps on getting better for the Bruins.
The Leafs wake up this morning 27th in the overall NHL standings, which would mean the fourth pick overall should the lottery balls not affect the draft order. They also wake up without prospects Nazem Kadri and Keith Aulie on their NHL roster, as both have been returned to the AHL Toronto Marlies after unimpressive first-time NHL auditions. To Spector, this smells of the Leafs, led by general manager Brian Burke, not having a plan for handling their young talent.
Well, Kadri was sent back to serve that suspension Dec. 29, five days after Aulie’s premature NHL debut been ended by the Leafs. Like placing first-line center pressure on the shoulders of the inexperienced [Tyler] Bozak, it was classic mishandling of an organization’s top prospects.
Bozak was thrust into the first-line center’s role at the outset of the season with less than half an NHL season of experience under his belt and has since bounced up and down the lineup. He has produced just 12 points in 35 games. In 17 NHL games, Kadri registered six assists with no goals. And Aulie didn’t record a point in 12 games with the Leafs.
So it would seem that the Leafs are not only a lost cause for the rest of this season, but they might now have even more problems going forward depending on how their prospects bounce back. It might benefit the Bruins in the long run to have a struggling franchise in the division, but for the here and now it’s all about the draft pick. Tongue firmly in cheek, Spector puts a positive spin on the bounty the Leafs paid the Bruins for Kessel.
Three prospects and three forgettable debuts by an organization that put more on their plate than they were able to handle.
Maybe it’s a good thing Burke dealt away all those draft picks to Boston.
It doesn’t appear this team knows what to do with young players anyhow.