The Toronto Maple Leafs got their man, but Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli drove a hard bargain.
On Friday, the Leafs dealt two first-round draft picks and a second rounder for the rights to negotiate with Kessel, and then signed the young American forward to a five-year contract worth $27 million US.
"I'm very happy with the return we got," Chiarelli said in a Boston news conference Saturday.
The deal means that Boston now has five picks in the first two rounds of the 2010 NHL Draft. They include the Bruins' original picks, the two Toronto draft choices and another second-round pick acquired from Tampa Bay at the trade deadline last season.
"These picks are significant. There are serious players coming up," Chiarelli said.
It ended a very messy and public divorce between the Bruins and one of their promising young stars.
Kessel, 21, wanted out of Boston, and friction between Chiarelli and Wade Arnott, Kessel's agent, made signing the young gun impossible.
"Let me be perfectly clear," Chiarelli said. "This trade is really about two things. One, it's about a player who did not want to play in Boston. Two, it's about the threat or the perceived threat of an offer sheet.
"There was little to no attempt to renegotiate from the other side."
Earlier this month, Toronto acquired the last draft pick it needed to sign Kessel, who was a restricted free agent, to an offer sheet.
Had that happened, Boston would've been forced to match Toronto's offer, negotiate a trade, or accept first-, second- and third-round draft picks in 2010 as compensation.
Instead, the Bruins opted for a trade before an offer sheet was filed.
"It's a very high price, but it's one that we feel makes sense for us," Toronto general manager Brian Burke said Friday night.
"Phil's a dynamic player, I've had him with the U.S. national team," he said. "He's got great foot speed, he's a good power-play specialist, he's good on the shootout and he's a solid kid."
Chiarelli also confirmed that Boston had attempted to trade Kessel to the Leafs in June at the NHL draft for defenceman Tomas Kaberle and the seventh overall pick. But the deal didn't go through and the Leafs selected Nazem Kadri with the pick.
Kessel, who had 36 goals and had 24 assists last season, will be formally introduced to the Toronto media prior to Saturday's pre-season game against Philadelphia.
The Madison, Wis., native was selected fifth overall by the Bruins in the 2006 NHL entry draft and overcame testicular cancer in his rookie season.