According to a report by David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period, now that the Arizona Coyotes have paid forward Phil Kessel a $5 million bonus he was due on July 1st, the team is looking to trade the player. Because he’s only owed $1 million in real dollars to finish off the final year of his current contract, the Coyotes are hoping there’s a team out there willing to take on his salary cap without having to actually spend all that much.
Pagnotta’s post motivated a number of responses from followers who figured there would be a handful of teams interested. Among them, the Seattle Kraken and Vegas Golden Knights. Some fans even tossed out the idea of Kessel going back to either Boston or Toronto.
It might be something Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland should take a look at. Here are three reasons why:
The Oilers Still Might Need a Right-Winger
Upon first glance, suggesting the Oilers shouldn’t be focused on adding a right-winger is fair. Among the priorities the Oilers have set this offseason, this is not among them. That said, you can never have too much depth and what the Oilers are running with are two fairly inexperienced right wing options could turn out wonderfully and be a massive bargain for the team, or it could be a problem area.
If either Kailer Yamamoto or Jesse Puljujarvi don’t take a big step forward in their progression, the Oilers aren’t nearly as deep at this position as we’d like to believe. It’s easy to be confident both will improve as there’s a lot to like, but if there’s a chance to add a proven 20-30 goal right-wing option for a low cost on a one-year rental, why not? Good teams add proven production. Kessel qualifies.
In fact, beyond Puljujarvi and Yamamoto, there’s not much, except Zack Kassian, Josh Archibald, and James Neal available. It’s not a given that any of these three players will be with the club next season and if the Oilers have the cap space and the means to add Kessel, it’s not a terrible idea.
The Cost on Kessel is Too High
Again, on the surface, this is true. But, much of this depends on what the Coyotes are willing to do in any trade. If the idea is to dump salary and cap hit, or simply move the player to open up a roster spot, Arizona might be willing to trade Kessel for younger assets that will eventually grow with the franchise. If Edmonton can move a player that they can live with losing, while getting the Coyotes to retain close to 50% of the deal, it’s an attractive option.
Yes, if the Coyotes don’t retain salary because they are strictly looking to move his full cap hit to a team that isn’t worried about the cap — a team like the Detroit Red Wings or Seattle Kraken — then Edmonton shouldn’t be in the conversation. The Oilers would be handcuffing themselves by adding $6.8 million in salary to the books. But at $3.4 million for Kessel, Holland should make a phone call.
That’s good value for a top-six winger and not a huge overpay if Kessel plays on the third line. He can help keep the Oilers power play clicking (or better yet, give them a viable second option) and moving Yamamoto down one spot isn’t going to hurt his development.
Kessel Might be an Nice Transition Piece for the Oilers
One of the things Ken Holland will be looking for this summer are players who he’s not required to make a massive commitment to. Kessel has one year remaining on his deal and if he can come in, essentially as a $3.4 million rental, the Oilers could do a whole lot worse.
This gives their top nine on the right side a lot of flexibility. It adds a pure shooter in the top six and it removes a bit of the pressure from two young, improving players to carry the load of being the right fit for a couple of elite centers. Kessel can assume that role and would probably relish it.
For Kessel, this offers an opportunity to put up good numbers playing alongside a couple of elite centers and potentially getting himself one more decent contract in a flat cap NHL marketplace. Like Tyson Barrie, Kessel may see Edmonton as an opportunity.
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”