Penguins Should Consider Trading For Phil Kessel

Arizona Coyotes forward Phil Kessel has been informed by the team he’s not in their plans this season. The team wants to get younger, and Coyotes management is looking to flip Kessel for assets. The sniper is in the final season of his contract and is one of the best “rentals” on the market. Insert the Pittsburgh Penguins, who know exactly what Kessel can bring to the table. Penguins management should make a phone call and see if they can swing a deal to complete the Kessel reunion.

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The Penguins are desperate for some depth up front and with the long-term injury to Evgeni Malkin, adding Kessel to the mix would help balance out the scoring. While the Penguins would love to get their hands on another center, sometimes you have to take what’s out there, and as far as the trade market goes, Kessel is one of the best names available. His resume speaks for itself and he was beloved by his teammates in Pittsburgh. The transition would be seamless and since the Olympian does have some trade protection, it’s very likely the Penguins will make the cut.

Penguins Trade Offer Would Need to Be Creative

The money will be tight in Pittsburgh this season and Kessel’s $6.8 million salary this season won’t be easy to fit in. The Penguins would need to have the Coyotes retain a small portion of the contract, and they would need to include defenseman Marcus Pettersson in the deal.

Marcus Pettersson Pittsburgh Penguins
Marcus Pettersson’s trade value isn’t what it used to be (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The 25-year-old defenseman is making $4.02 million for the next four seasons and is someone the Coyotes could be interested in. Ideally, the team would love to get rid of Kessel without having to take money back on the deal, but if the Penguins throw in a top prospect and a second-round pick, say for 2023, this is a deal that could work out for everyone involved.

Brian Burke Knows All About a Kessel Trade

Burke made the infamous trade when he was running the Toronto Maple Leafs that landed Kessel for two draft picks that turned into Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton. The deal worked out for both the Boston Bruins and the Leafs as Kessel was a star in Toronto.

Brian Burke
Brian Burke’s never scared of a bold trade (Canadian Press)

As Pens fans know, Kessel was then dealt after Burke left for a package including Kasperi Kapanen. The Penguins president of hockey operations absolutely loves the player and it would be funny to see him trade for Kessel once again, without having to give up near as much. There’s something about adding a two-time Stanley Cup champion who can be a game-changing goal-scorer that should spark the interest of both Burke and Penguins general manager Ron Hextall.

Penguins Aren’t Married to Prospects

When it comes to the wheeling and dealing, sometimes executives can be very loyal to their draft picks, but we have to remember the Penguins management duo has only been on the scene for one draft. The rest of the prospects they didn’t sign off on, so there are certainly a few names within the cupboards where if the right NHL player became available for trade, they would have no issue sending the prospect packing. Given the worries of how the Penguins will generate offense without Malkin for a few months and Sidney Crosby coming off surgery, the stars could align for the reunion.

Does Kessel Fit the Direction of the Penguins?

The answer here is probably not, as the Penguins have been trying to get bigger, tougher, and harder to play against. Kessel is far from an aggressive player who’s going to do the dirty work. “Phil the Thrill” scores goals and racks up points, he does not body check or push people off the puck. This isn’t something new, though, so if a deal was to go down, there’s undoubtedly going to be some discussions about how else to upgrade in those other areas. That’s what you have depth defenseman for and checking forwards. Two things that can be easily acquired at the trade deadline.

Related – Penguins’ Kapanen Ready to Breakout in 2021-22

The Penguins need to inquire about Kessel. Do some due diligence on the Coyotes’ asking price and see if they can swing a deal that includes Pettersson heading in the package. Not only would it benefit this team in 2021-22, losing that contract for the next few seasons would be huge to the Penguins’ financial flexibility moving forward. Not only that, Kessel would be back in town and that’s a very good thing!

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