The Pittsburgh Penguins have expressed interest in acquiring Phil Kessel from the Toronto Maple Leafs, according to Sportsnet’s Damien Cox.
PITT targeting Phil Kessel as one of 4 or 5 scoring forwards that interest them. Everybody wants young Penguin D.
— Damien Cox (@DamoSpin) June 25, 2015
The Penguins are certainly no stranger to making big trades in order to win now. Acquiring Kessel would be in line with that, even if it makes for a complicated cap situation long-term. Kessel has seven years left on his contract with a cap hit of $8 million per year.
Cox speculates that teams talking trades with the Penguins may be interested in some of their promising young D corps, including guys like Olli Maatta, Derrick Pouliot, Brian Dumoulin, and Scott Harrington. (Though, I have a tough time imagining that the Penguins would move Maata.)
If you add Kessel to a lineup that already features Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Patric Hornqvist, Chris Kunitz, and David Perron up front, you have a formidable offense. However, the team would have $39.2 million of their cap space tied up between Malkin, Crosby, Kessel, Kris Letang, and Marc-Andre Fleury, which almost guarantees that the Penguins would be looking for the Leafs to retain some salary.
They’d also have Malkin, Kessel, Letang, and Crosby on the books through 2022. In seven years that group of four might not be quite as exciting as they look now, particularly with those cap hits.
Nonetheless, the team would be a serious offensive threat, if not a little top heavy, for the next couple season.
The Penguins currently have $13,668,334 in cap space available, according to General Fanager. That’s with eight UFAs and two RFAs not on contract, though there is the possibility that some players not on last season’s NHL roster, like Kasperi Kapanen, may be able to make the leap to the NHL in the 2015-16 season.
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Dustin Nelson writes about news and the Minnesota Wild for The Hockey Writers.