Trade Trees: Phil Kessel to Pittsburgh Penguins

Trade trees is back with the blockbuster deal that sent Phil Kessel to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
On July 1st 2015, the Pittsburgh Penguins acquire Phil Kessel, Tim Erixon, Tyler Biggs and a 2016 2nd round pick from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Nick Spaling, Scott Harrington, Kasperi Kapenen, a 2016 1st round pick and a 2016 3rd round pick. The Leafs also retained 1.2 million of Phil Kessel's salary.

Starting off with the Penguins, Erixon, Biggs, and Kasper Borkqvist (drafted with the Leafs' 2nd round pick in 2016) have not played a game with the Penguins since the trade. Biggs has bounced around the AHL and ECHL, Erixon has since moved to other AHL teams (Binghamton Devils and Springfield Thunderbirds), and Borkqvist is still playing at Providence university. Safe to say the only real acquisition for them has been Kessel.
Since arriving in Pittsburgh, Kessel has played in 251 regular season games, scoring 87 goals and 229 points over 3 years. His production did not dry up during the post-season either, as he has amassed 19 goals and 54 points in 61 playoff games, helping the Penguins win the Stanley Cup in both 2016 and 2017.

Looking at the Maple Leafs' side, it's all a complicated mess. To start off, Nick Spaling played in 35 games with the Leafs in 2016, scoring 1 goal and 7 points before being dealt in the large trade that saw Roman Polak, Jeremy Morin, and James Reimer heading to San Jose, bringing back a couple 2nd round picks (2016 and 2018), Ben Smith, Alex Stalock, a conditional 3rd round pick, and Raffi Torres.
BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE, with one of those 2nd round picks, along with the 1st round pick from Pittsburgh, the Leafs acquired Frederik Andersen from Anaheim. Those picks turned into Sam Steel and Maxime Comtois with the 1st and 2nd round picks respectively.
Next is Scott Harrington. He played in 15 games with the Leafs in 2016, before being dealt to the Blue Jackets for Kerby Rychel. Rychel never played for the Maple Leafs before being dealt with Rinat Valiev and a 2nd round pick to Montreal for Kyle Baun and Tomas Plekanec.
Here's where things get much simpler. The 3rd piece acquired was Kasperi Kapenen. He has bounced between the NHL and AHL during his first 3 years with the Maple Leafs. To start this season, he appears to have solidified himself in the Maple Leafs lineup, stepping up his game to fill the hole that an unsigned William Nylander is leaving.
The 2016 3rd round pick turned into J.D. Greenway, who is still currently playing College hockey with University of Wisconsin.

If I had to pick a winner of this trade, it wouldn't be Toronto or Pittsburgh. Phil Kessel was the real winner of the trade. Since being acquired for 2 picks that turned into Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton (oh and also Jared Knight), Kessel was expected to be the saviour of the franchise. The fans and media ate him alive during his tenure with the Leafs. Even in 2017-18, he was still being interviewed about his experience in Toronto. Since moving to Pittsburgh, he isn't under the microscope nearly as much. He has also managed to win a pair of cups, so I feel Kessel is the real winner here.

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