Bruins Need to Bring Kessel Back

It’s been over a decade since the Boston Bruins traded Phil Kessel to the Toronto Maple Leafs. After the way his tenure ended, it seemed there was no chance he would ever return. However, according to The Fourth Period’s David Pagnotta, the Bruins are one of the teams currently linked to the Arizona Coyotes winger in trade talks. This is surprising, but at the same time, it makes sense.

The Bruins have a very solid 29-17-4 record, but they have issues with secondary scoring. A player like Kessel could help fix this, as he’s been an excellent point-producer throughout his career. Furthermore, he’s on an expiring contract, and the Coyotes are completely out of the playoff picture. Now seems like the perfect time for a reunion. Here’s a look at why bringing Kessel back to Boston makes sense.

Asking Price for Kessel Is Low

The Coyotes’ asking price for Kessel is surprisingly low, with rumblings that they are seeking a third-round pick for the 34-year-old. He is still a legitimate second-line winger, so this could be a steal for the Bruins, especially since they traded the same thing to the Ottawa Senators last season for defenseman Mike Reilly.

Phil Kessel Arizona Coyotes
Phil Kessel, Arizona Coyotes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Yet, what makes this even better is that the Coyotes are reportedly also willing to retain 50% of Kessel’s $6.8 million salary, which would only be a $3.4 million cap hit for the Bruins. At that price, he would be worth the investment. Although he has an average annual value (AAV) of $8 million, the Maple Leafs are still paying $1.2 million of his salary, too.

Kessel Would Fix Bruins’ Issues at Right Wing

I recently argued that the Bruins have a real issue at the right-wing position. After David Pastrnak, they don’t have another right-winger who works well in their top six. Craig Smith has shown that he is a perfect third-line forward and should be utilized in that role permanently. By acquiring a player like Kessel, they would upgrade and add depth to their top six.

Related: Bruins Should Resist Trading Fabian Lysell

The Bruins should try to keep Taylor Hall and Pastrnak on the same line from here. They have been a perfect match. Smith has not worked well on a line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, however, and it would be wise for the Bruins to try to add a right-winger before the deadline passes. Kessel has played marvelously with top-of-the-line players in the past, so he should be an ideal candidate for this role.

Kessel Has Potential to Thrive with Bruins

In 51 games this season, Kessel has six goals and 27 assists. He has been setting up his teammates well, but he is also struggling to score. However, the Coyotes have one of the weakest rosters in the league, especially at center. If Kessel were to join a far better team like the Bruins, it could help spark his offensive game significantly.

Phil Kessel Arizona Coyotes
Phil Kessel, Arizona Coyotes (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

It isn’t quite accurate to say Kessel is struggling. He is still second on the Coyotes in points with 33. However, those numbers are a bit low for his standards, as he scored 20 goals and 43 points in 56 games with the team last season. If he were to be utilized on a line with Marchand and Bergeron, it’s hard to believe it wouldn’t have a positive impact on his ability to produce. The Bruins’ longtime duo would also likely benefit from having him on their line, and he would be a lock to join their power play.

Kessel Comes with Vast Experience

It’s never a bad thing to have a player with a lot of experience heading into the playoffs. In 1,173 career games between the Bruins, Maple Leafs, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Coyotes, he has 397 goals and 540 assists. Those numbers are excellent and only the beginning of his strong resume. After years of criticism about his work ethic, he went on to win back-to-back Stanley Cups with the Penguins. With that, he’s also participated in three All-Star Games; just another major reason why the Bruins should be open to a reunion.

Bergeron and Marchand are the only players remaining from the Bruins’ 2011 Stanley Cup championship team, and no other player on their roster has had the honor of lifting the world’s greatest trophy. It wouldn’t hurt to add another player who has gone on multiple playoff runs and succeeded. Kessel is not only a proven winner, but he also comes with immense durability; he has played over 900 straight games without being sidelined due to an injury.

Despite the odds, there is a possibility of a reunion between Kessel and the Bruins. Considering all the longtime NHL forward provides, Boston should jump on acquiring him. This is especially true given the Coyotes reported asking price. It would be fun to see him return after so many years.

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