It’s a common yet seldom discussed strategy. As part of his modified no-trade clause, Pittsburgh Penguins winger Phil Kessel may submit a list of eight teams to which he may be deal without prior approval. What if Kessel put eight teams which most obviously could not or would not acquire him so that Kessel himself could essentially create a no-trade clause and gain control over any destination?
On the Leafs Lunch show Tuesday, TSN Insider Bob McKenzie first declared that it is a matter of when not if a Phil Kessel trade would happen. Then McKenzie further theorized Kessel could have engaged in the common practice of sabotaging the NTC in order to control his movement.
“I don’t know what the eight teams he can’t be traded to are, but I do know most players in the National Hockey League when you’ve got a very small window like that, you fill it up with potential teams you’re not going to be traded to,” McKenzie said. “You want to create a full, virtual no-trade clause.”
McKenzie opined such a list would include absurd notions and former Kessel stomping grounds like Toronto and Boston. And Philadelphia. Just imagine the thought.
“If I were Kessel, I would also say, the Tampa Bay Lightning. They’ve got enough good offensive players making big money, they’re not going to trade for another one,” said McKenzie said. “I’d look for some other cap crunched team that’s got a lot of really good offensive players who wouldn’t be in the market for Phil Kessel.”
Bold strategy, Cotton. Let’s see how it plays out.
Over the holiday weekend, The Athletic reported Kessel rejected a trade to Minnesota because he believed the organization was too far away from contending for a Stanley Cup.
Our Dan Kingerski examined the fallout of Kessel’s rejection and the negative impact he believes it will have on the attempt to deal Kessel.
“At the end of the day, Phil Kessel is going to realize the Penguins want to move on,” opined McKenzie. “He’s got to be a little bit tuned to that and know that do you really want to stay somewhere where they don’t want you?”
If Kessel did stack the list with teams which can’t or won’t acquire him, what happens next? Would Kessel force the Penguins to keep him? There are no shortage of fans who would like to see that option, as social media is full of blame for head coach Mike Sullivan over the situation.
And how far would Penguins GM Jim Rutherford be willing to go to make a change he feels is necessary? Kessel is a known poker player, and the calls and bluffs on this round may just be getting started.
For our Canadian readers, you can watch the TSN video here. Unfortunately, it is not available to the U.S. market.
–Sponsored by Redbeard’s Bar and Grill on Mt. Washington and 6th Ave. Downtown. Click the banner above for the daily specials. (Hint: All you can eat wings!)–