Toronto Maple Leafs: Why This Is a Make-or-Break Season for Phil Kessel

September 11th, 2012 by Steve Silverman Leave a reply »
Phil Kessel is going to have to do a lot more than score goals this year with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

He is an offensive player of note, having scored 30 or more goals the last four seasons, three of which have been with the Maple Leafs. Kessel skates like the wind and when he finds a small breach in the opposing defense, he can take advantage and rip off a hard shot in an instant.

He is a sniper who will find his target.

He will have a cap hit of $5.1 million for the Maple Leafs; and they have failed to make the playoffs in any of his seasons with Toronto. He may have the golden wheels to score goals, but he is limited as a defensive player (source: Steve Buffery, Toronto

Much of that may be due to a lack of concern with that part of his game—in his three seasons with the Leafs, Kessel has been minus-8, minus-20 and minus-10.

If Kessel is going to continue to play as if defense is an afterthought, that's not going to be a positive for head coach Randy Carlyle as he begins his first season in Toronto.

Carlyle preaches defense from all his teams as that philosophy helped his Anaheim Ducks win the Stan ...

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