Penguins Trade Phil Kessel to Arizona Coyotes

Phil Kessel has been traded by the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Arizona Coyotes. Details of the trade are that the Penguins will receive forward Alex Galchenyuk, and defenseman Pierre-Olivier Joseph in exchange for Kessel, defenseman Dane Birks and a fourth-round pick.

No salary was retained in the deal.

As was noted in TSN’s report of the trade, Kessel spent the past four seasons with the Penguins after being traded by the Toronto Maple Leafs. He joined the Pens along with Tyler Biggs, Tim Erixon and a conditional second-round pick in exchange for Kasperi Kapanen, Scott Harrington, Nick Spaling and conditional first and third-round picks. At the time of the trade, Toronto also retained $1.2 million of Kessel’s salary for the remaining seven seasons of his contract.

Related: NHL Rumors: Flames, Penguins, Maple Leafs, More

The Kessel Trade That Didn’t Happen

The trade that was supposed to happen then didn’t happen, finally happened.

Jason Zucker
Jason Zucker, Philadelphia Flyers versus Minnesota Wild, January 14, 2019. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

It was no secret the Pittsburg Penguins were looking to move Phil Kessel in a trade, but Kessel had a lot of say as to where he could and would eventually go. The Penguins and the Minnesota Wild worked out a trade — one that included Jason Zucker — but Kessel declined the move and the Penguins went back to the drawing board.

GM Jim Rutherford then said publicly that he wasn’t shopping Kessel any longer. The assumption was that he didn’t want Kessel dictating the terms of the trade so he put it on the backburner. The reality was, Rutherford wanted to send a message that Kessel needed to work with the Penguins to facilitate a move otherwise he’d be back with the Penguins, a place he didn’t want to be next season.

Related: NHL Rumors: Sabres, Maple Leafs, Sharks, More

The Kessel Trade That Did Happen

In the end, Kessel didn’t have to give much. Rumored as a location he was always willing to go to, the Penguins were able to ship Kessel off to the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday.

Because the Coyotes were on the list of teams Kessel was willing to accept a trade to, the Penguins didn’t have to convince him to waive his no-trade clause or ask him to approve the move.

Phil Kessel, Thomas Greiss
Pittsburgh Penguins’ Phil Kessel gets the puck behind New York Islanders goaltender Thomas Greiss (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Kessel will join coach Rick Tocchet (with whom he has a great relationship) and be in a prime position to become the Coyotes top scorer on an offense that includes Derek Stepan, Nick Schmaltz, and Carl Soderberg.

Kessel tallied 82 points (27 goals, 55 assists) in 2018-19 and at a $6.8 million cap hit, rumors swirled that the Penguins were willing to move his consistent offense to shake up the team and create some financial flexibility to make moves on July 1.

Part of that shakeup came because the Penguins were swept in the first round of the playoffs by the New York Islanders.

Related: NHL Rumors: Rangers, Capitals, Oilers, Maple Leafs, More

What’s Next For Both Teams

Both the Penguins and Coyotes are rumored to be eager to make moves on July 1. The Coyotes might be a team that spends more this offseason than they have, potentially, in their franchise’s history. The Penguins are ready to spend to the cap to improve their fortunes in the postseason for next season.

There are mixed reactions coming out of Pittsburgh with some fans don’t let the door hit you on the way out and others asking why the Penguins would trade one of their top scorers who wasn’t overpaid for the production he was providing.

That said, the Kessel drama, for now, is over and both teams can get back to business with one the most speculated trades of the summer now complete.