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    At long last, Phil Kessel will don the blue and white as he takes to the ice against the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight.  He has received final clearance (after undergoing a few tests on his repaired shoulder) and will be lining up alongside Jason Blake and Matt Stajan.  While the focus will undoubtedly be on Kessel’s performance in his first game, the Leafs as a whole must maintain their recent level of play and take a win from the visiting team tonight.


      Reports indicate that Phil Kessel will definitely be in the lineup tomorrow night against the Tampa Bay Lightning.  The much-anticipated debut of the young winger has been a hot topic of late with information surfacing in the last few weeks that he would be ready before the previously upheld mid-November estimate.  With the Leafs playing much better in recent games, it will be interesting to see how Kessel fits in.  Fans should not expect him to be completely in form yet, as he will need some time to get into game-shape.


        I must confess, I bought in.  I bought into the mantra of improved team toughness, improved goaltending, improved and revamped defense, and an improved top6 forward unit possessing speed and skill who would be protected and insulated by a tough as nails complimentary group of players.  I watched the pre-season and was salivating at the skill, speed, and determination exhibited by the up and coming Leafs prospects.  But, then something very strange happened, something I cannot comprehend nor understand.  Every single player (with the exception of Stalberg), which had led to such optimism and belief of brighter days ahead – were demoted to the OHL or the AHL.  I sat there shaking my head, and privately and publicly went on and on about how this team could not succeed without the youth.  Ironically enough, I had absolutely no idea how right I was and how bad this could and would get.


          TSN’s Darren Dreger is reporting a trade between Brian Burke and Peter Chiarelli that will see Phil Kessel join the Maple Leafs as agreed upon at this time pending a contract agreement between the Leafs and the restricted free agent.

          Update: Damien Cox is reporting via twitter that the Leafs and Kessel have agreed upon a 5 year, $27 million contract, with two firsts and a second headed to Boston in return for Kessel.

          Update: TSN has since confirmed the details of the contract and trade as reported earlier by Cox.


            It took sometime to manifest, prolonged in the wake of shoulder surgery and stunted contract talks, but the September 10th news that negotiations between the Boston Bruins, Wade Arnott and Phil Kessel had come to an impasse reignited the rumor mill that has surrounded the Leafs and the Madison, Wisconsin sniper since Brian Burke first tabled Tomas Kaberle in the infamous draft day “misunderstanding.”

            In the week that has passed since negotiations broke down, the value of Kessel has skyrocketed beyond the original RFA compensation of a 1st, 2nd and 3rd round selection in the 2010 draft.


              With news of the trade to re-acquire Toronto’s 2010 2nd round selection, rumors and speculation of a looming offer sheet have been a hot topic of discussion among Leaf fans and around the NHL. Among the many RFA’s, the three most prominent and likely targets appear to be Boston’s Phil Kessel, Buffalo’s Drew Stafford and New York’s Brandon Dubinsky. Here’s the latest news pertaining to that trio.


                Amid speculation that Brian Burke is positioning himself to extend an offer sheet – perhaps to long-rumoured target, 22-year-old winger Phil Kessel – after swapping picks to recover the Leafs’ 2010 second round pick in a deal that would seemingly make little sense otherwise, there is another possibility to consider in regards to trade negotiations.


                  I hope you’ve all called in sick for work, abandoned your family for the day, or are otherwise prepared to fill your normally empty schedule with the whirling excitement of rumours and deals that is the NHL Draft Day.

                  Firstly, the team that tabled the “unexpected offer” for Kaberle has been revealed to be the Bruins.