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Source: Non-Playoff Teams Making Trade Offers For Phil Kessel

The NHL trade market has understandably shown some enthusiasm for one of last season’s top scorers.

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Michael Miller (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0]

While the Penguins certainly aren’t looking to offload Phil Kessel by any means necessary, the NHL trade market has shown some expected enthusiasm for one of last season’s top scorers.

According to a source with knowledge of the situation, at least two Eastern Conference teams that missed the playoffs in 2017-18 have made initial trade proposals for Kessel. The source characterizes the Penguins as being interested in what these East also-rans are offering, although it should be noted these discussions are in their early stages.

After Kessel put up a career-best 92 points in the regular season, there should be no surprise that most (if not all) NHL teams would be intrigued to hear the news that friction has built between Kessel and Mike Sullivan. I’ve been told that the Penguins aren’t determined to trade Kessel, a player whose skills they still value very much, but Jim Rutherford and staff are keeping their options open when it comes to restructuring this team for another run at a championship.

Sorted from most points to fewest, here are the eight East teams that missed the Stanley Cup playoffs this year: Panthers, Hurricanes, Islanders, Rangers, Red Wings, Canadiens, Senators and Sabres. Kessel, who will be 31 by the start of the 2018-19 season, has four years left on a contract that pays him $8 million annually, although the Maple Leafs will take care of $1.2 million yearly for the duration of the deal. CapFriendly reports that Kessel’s modified no-trade clause mandates the player give the team a list of eight teams he would be OK with joining.

Kessel ranked seventh in the league in regular-season points and 17th in goals (34), but he scored just one goal in 12 playoff games. Although he did chip in eight assists as well, his performance this spring fueled speculation that he was fighting through a significant injury, a theory Sullivan shot down after the Penguins were eliminated by the Capitals in the second round.

Shortly after, PHN learned there was some sort of ill feeling building between Kessel and the coaching staff. This emotion was at least partially pertaining to Kessel’s determination to play through injuries during the regular season, rather than get himself completely healthy for the playoffs.

The Athletic’s Josh Yohe reported this week (subscription required) that Kessel himself was frustrated by not getting to play much with Evgeni Malkin during the playoffs, as contrasted against Kessel’s frequent pairing with Malkin during the 2017 Cup run. Based on advanced statistics, our Dan Kingerski backed up Sullivan’s decision in the Evgeni Malkin Report Card (subscription required).

We’ll continue to monitor the latest developments this summer. For all of our coverage of Kessel’s developing situation, click here.

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A lifelong hockey addict, Matt has been fortunate enough to make his career in his sport of choice, working in high school, juniors, college and the pros in various multimedia roles. Previous to joining PHN, Matt was a credentialed Penguins/NHL beat reporter from 2016-18, including coverage of the 2017 Stanley Cup Final. He contributes commentary and analysis here in various forms.

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Matt Luda
Matt Luda
3 years ago

Today the Super Genius dismissed PHN as a fan site run by a bunch of jamokes who can’t find real jobs. Thoughts?

Dan Kingerski
Admin
3 years ago
Reply to  Matt Luda

Not really. Matt responded via Twitter. That’s all we care to say.

Ricardo58
Ricardo58
3 years ago

IMO from afar, this issue with 81 has been badly mishandled. Sullivan has the authority I would think to sit 81 if he was hurt whether 81 liked it or not. Sullivan and the GM could have kept their comments on 81 after the Caps series private as compared to being on different pages concerning the health of 81 and his consecutive games played. Lastly, 81 could have spoke to the media to quell speculation. Obviously, the decision making of 81, GM and Sullivan were up to each to make and thus the fallout from those decisions. I root for… Read more »

Danielle
Danielle
3 years ago
Reply to  Ricardo58

Agreed, Ricardo58. All of the stories coming out about Kessel, Sullivan’s relationship with him, and Rutherford’s and Sullivan’s differing answers about Phil’s health this season make the organization seem unprofessional.

Matt Luda
Matt Luda
3 years ago

BTW, I don’t buy it. IMNSHO, you gals and gals do a professional job.

Matt Luda
Matt Luda
3 years ago
Reply to  Matt Luda

Meant to say gals and guys . . .

Matt Gajtka
3 years ago
Reply to  Matt Luda

Thanks Matt. Guess we’ll see. Figured I’d let you know what I know.

BIG BERN
BIG BERN
3 years ago

Good article Matt,i just don’t understand the backlash to the media reporting the Phil Kessel saga. The real Phun will be if Phil is traded and we watch the freakout of fans who will turn on their own team.I rememember a fan on the board at hockey futures saying how he wished he was a Sabres fan because of the vast young stars they had coming.Well 2 years have past and the sabres are stll last place, but the point of my ramble is if you want to abandon your team then you are not a fan. The lunacy is… Read more »

Matt Gajtka
3 years ago
Reply to  BIG BERN

I don’t judge people on their fandom, but I agree that Phil has become much more than a hockey player for some. That’s fine, but that’ll lead to more heartbreak if/when he moves.

Robert savage
Robert savage
3 years ago

Leave Kessel alone, he’s the man, can’t believe they put him on with that worthless trade Broussard bum, understand why he would be pissed , Sullivan ain’t no mastermind, that team could thrive with me running it, Matta would be the first (deleted), worthless!!! Protected last year! Why? My guess would be to let ovie score at will, go pens,go red wings, go Vegas, go away Washington!

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