It has happened.
In what will undoubtedly be the signature move of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ offseason, the team Saturday traded winger Phil Kessel to the Arizona Coyotes.
The Penguins are getting forward Alex Galchenyuk and defense prospect Pierre Olivier Joseph, and also are giving up prospect Dane Birks and a 2021 fourth-round draft pick.
Kessel, 31, won two Stanley Cups in his four seasons with the Penguins, never missed a game and had 82 points in 82 games in 2018-19. However, the sniper became a lightning rod for a mix of support, criticism, trade rumors and hints of discord with coach Mike Sullivan.
Kessel has three years left on his contract with a $6.8 million salary cap hit, while Galchenyuk, 25, has a cap hit of $4.9 million and is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent a year from now.
Galchenyuk, who can play center and left wing, was the third overall pick in the 2012 draft, by Montreal. He spent just one season with Arizona and tied for the team lead with 19 goals. He was the only Coyotes player with more than 40 points.
He has 127 goals, 296 points in 490 career games.
Joseph, who turns 20 on Monday, was a first-round pick by the Coyotes in 2017.
If it was in fact the case that Kessel made things difficult for Sullivan because of an insistence on playing alonside center Evgeni Malkin on the second line — and, really, even if it wasn’t — this opens more options for line combinations and alignments.
Kessel was nearly traded to several Minnesota weeks ago, but he was able to nix the deal based on the limited no-trade clause in his contract. It’s not known whether Kessel listed Arizona as one of the clubs he would accept a trade to or whether he waived the clause to facilitate the deal.
Either way, this reunites him with Arizona coach Rick Tocchet, the former Penguins assistant who was something of a Kessel whisperer.