In a season where the Toronto Maple Leafs are looking to qualify for their first postseason since 2004 (in which they played the Philadelphia Flyers), Phil Kessel has emerged as the centre of attention. While the club looks for a pair of forwards that can complement his skills, perhaps their best option would be Phil’s sister, Amanda Kessel.
During the 2012-13 NCAA season, Amanda Kessel has had a year to remember. She earned her 200th career point in only her 99th career contest. Playing with the Minnesota Golden Gophers, she helped the squad reach several milestones, including the longest unbeaten streak in NCAA women’s hockey history, and a 22-0-0 start.
Of note, Kessel is also the NCAA’s leading scorer. Should the Gophers remain undefeated and win the NCAA Frozen Four, Kessel shall be a key component of that unprecedented success.
Over a decade ago, Meghan Sittler, the daughter of Maple Leafs legend Darryl Sittler was a scoring phenom with the Colby College White Mules. Eventually, she would compete with the United States National Team and the Brampton Thunder of the National Women’s Hockey League. Cliff Fletcher, an advisor (and former general manager) of the Toronto Maple Leafs had indicated that he would have been willing to sign her to a contract.
Based on her superlative performance, Kessel is emerging as the favorite to claim the 2013 Patty Kazmaier Award (awarded to the most outstanding player in NCAA women’s hockey). In addition, she will likely be a member of the US National Team that shall compete at the 2013 IIHF Women’s Worlds in Ottawa, Ontario. A roster spot for the 2014 Sochi Winter Games is not unlikely.
Although it would seem more likely that a woman would have a better opportunity to break the National Hockey League’s gender barrier as a goaltender, Amanda Kessel’s superior skills and talents would truly make her the most suitable linemate for Phil Kessel. Considering that the Maple Leafs have not experienced Stanley Cup glory since 1967 (and have not been to the finals since), it is time for the franchise to take a risk.