Don’t Break the Bank: Kessel Still Has a Lot to Prove, Improve

by abournenesn

Jul 19, 2009

As the Bruins, Phil Kessel and his agent attempt to workout a
contract this summer, one National Hockey League general manager
recently told the Boston Globe that the up-and-coming winger still has
a lot more to prove before he can demand a big pay-day.

“Kessel is an interesting, exciting player, and he had a very good year,’’ the anonymous GM told Kevin Paul Dupont of the Globe. “But from the outside, I wonder if he’ll get from the level
of good player to great player."

What would make the Bruins' 2008-09 leading scorer great?

"Great players are those who, by themselves,
can lead the team when they are on the ice," added the GM. "In other words, just by being out
there you alone can make the team have a better chance of winning. Kessel hasn’t
proved that yet. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a brilliant offensive guy, but he still has to show
more before he proves he’s an elite player worthy of elite money.’’

So while contract negotiations between the B's and Kessel have apparently run into a Storrow Drive standstill, reports of outside clubs showing interest in the 22-year-old winger have not surfaced either.

“People are running scared for a variety of reasons,’’ said the GM. “First of
all, the results aren’t there. And the cap [$56.8 million for the
upcoming season] is expected to come down. I’m a little surprised that there
haven’t been offer sheets to some lower-end players, but teams probably figure
that the other team will match it, and then all you’ve done in the process is
made an enemy; why create the monster?’’

The B's first round, fifth overall pick in 2006 potted career highs in goals (36), assists (24) and points (60) last season, despite missing 12 games with mononucleosis. Kessel also notched an NHL-longest 18-game points streak from Nov. 13-Dec. 21, where he banked 14 goals and 14 assists in that span. The 6-foot, 189-pounder did all he could in the postseason this spring, scoring six goals and helping out on five more in all 11 matches.

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