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Monday, February 7, 2011

Waffle Watch: 2011 Boston Bruins draft pick update: 7 Feb.

The Waffle Watch is back for its regularly scheduled Monday run.

It's been an interesting week in the standings, and the latest out of Toronto surrounds the DRAMA between Phil Kessel and coach Ron Wilson in the wake of the Leafs' embarrassing 6-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday.

The Leafs had won two straight coming out of the All-Star break, and when goalie James Reimer shutout Carolina on Thursday, hope began to spring eternal in Leafland. That is, until Reimer got lit up by the Sabres (and ultimately pulled). But the real story was Kessel's postgame comments, where he said "Maybe it's not working out here" and said something to the effect that maybe a "change" was needed.

Now, I ask you, and Kessel sycophants need not apply here, because to be frank, not interested in the continued free passes given to the guy by that segment of folks who are incapable of being objective, but is anyone surprised at what is going on with Kessel in Toronto?

He's never been all that great at handling adversity, and that Leafs team has been a petri dish of discontent and underperformance ever since he arrived two Septembers ago. He wasn't crazy about the Boston environment and pressures associated with being a pro player in the Olde Towne, but being on the Leafs when things aren't going well has to be crushing for him. In retrospect, Brian Burke made the wrong call with Kessel- he's a complimentary piece, not a cornerstone. And Wilson has his own role to play in this, as his aloof, often combative style is not the best fit for a guy like Kessel who often needs some coddling from his coach.

Wilson demoted Kessel to the third line, which no doubt prompted Kessel to make his controversial postgame remarks-- red meat for the Toronto media and everyone else who felt that Kessel was a bad fit there.

It will be interesting to see what happens, but as of right now, Kessel is being outscored by the guy who was taken 45 spots after he was- Milan Lucic. Did anyone see that one coming in Vancouver back in '06? I sure didn't!

It doesn't appear that the Kessel-Leafs marriage is going to end well. Unfortunately for Burke, he's over a barrel; to trade Kessel would be to admit that he made the colossal mistake of surrendering three prime picks that would have been critical for his team's rebuild for a player whose faults are magnified when he's not doing what he does best: putting the puck in the net. Burke won't get anywhere near the kind of return for Kessel that he needs, so cutting bait is probably not feasible. His best option is probably to replace WIlson and hope that the next coach can connect with Kessel and get him going in the right direction, because as of right now, the player once known as "the Thrill" is really not much more than a "pill" now.

The New Jersey Devils are only five points from catching the Leafs in the standings, and are coming off a big statement win over Montreal on Sunday after blowing a late lead Friday to Florida (which in hindsight helped the waffle watch by giving the Panthers a bigger lead over Toronto). Ottawa is in free-fall plummet mode, and the Islanders and Oilers probably aren't going to mount much resistance. So, from a Boston perspective, ending up with the fourth overall selection come June would be a moral victory in of itself. Chances of winning the lottery are slim, but stranger things have happened. Finishing fourth still puts them in position to come away with Gabriel Landeskog, especially with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins ripping it up of late with Red Deer. You could easily see a top-three of RNH, Adam Larsson and Sean Couturier when all is said and done.

Here's the latest in the standings if the season ended today:

1st Round
5th overall- Toronto (47 points; 21-26-5)- Completes Phil Kessel trade.
25th overall- Boston (67 points; 30-16-7) (Boston moves to 25th by virtue of third seed- Northeast Division lead with fewest points of division leaders even though technically lower than other teams in standings)

2nd Round
45th overall- Minnesota (59 points;27-20-5)- Completes Chuck Kobasew trade.
55th overall- Boston

3rd Round
77th overall- Phoenix (61 points; 26-19-9) - Completes Derek Morris trade.
Boston pick traded to Florida; Completes Nathan Horton deal

4th Round
115th overall- Boston

5th Round
145th overall- Boston

6th Round
175th overall- Boston

7th Round
186th overall- Florida (conditional 52 pts; 23-23-6)- Jeff LoVecchio, Jordan Knackstedt to Panthers for Sean Zimmerman, cond. 7th
Boston pick traded to Chicago (Zach Trotman)


  1. In your opinion though Kirk, you think Burke would let Wilson go before the end of the season? I'm probably wrong, but i think if he is even considering it, he wouldn't do it until the off season.

    Curious on your thoughts on that.

  2. Dom- I'm with you- unless they do a complete tank-job with passionless hockey that forces Brian Burke to make a change, I just don't see him making a move to relieve Wilson of his duties in mid-stream.

    The way the Leafs have played, I think he'll finish out the string at least.