Ex-Leaf Wilson: Kessel will have 40-goal season

Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford joined Prime Time Sports to discuss what made Phil Kessel so valuable to him and why he felt he would be a good fit for his team.

Phil Kessel is about to have his best season yet.

At least, that’s what ex-Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Ron Wilson predicts.

Wilson told NHL.com he expects the former Maple Leafs sniper will find great success with the Pittsburgh Penguins, a win-now team to which Kessel was dealt in the blockbuster trade of July 1.

“Pittsburgh is building a team that wants to win the Stanley Cup now, and I think Phil is only going to add to their success, so I expect him to score at least 40 goals this year and be a dominant player again,” Wilson said.

Wilson, whose time behind the Leafs bench spanned from 2008 to 2012, coached Kessel to three 30-plus points seasons.

To date, Kessel’s career-high in goals is 37 — a total he reached in 2011-12 and 2013-14.

As for who centres the new winger? It doesn’t matter, said Wilson.

“Whether he plays with Malkin or Sid, he’s got a center iceman who can get him the puck and do things on his own,” Wilson said. “In Toronto he didn’t quite have that.”

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