It’s been a wild season for the Pittsburgh Penguins. They sank like a stone to the bottom of the Eastern Conference and now sit just two points out of a playoff spot. Penguins General Manager Jim Rutherford has already made two trades: he jettisoned Carl Hagelin for Tanner Pearson and finally made a decision on struggling Daniel Sprong in exchange for Marcus Pettersson, Now according to Elliotte Friedman, the Penguins dipped a toe in the Phil Kessel trade market.
In his weekly 31 Thought column, Friedman quoted “multiple sources” who confirmed the Penguins gauged interest in the 31-year-old. However, Friedman was also quick to write the Penguins appear to have tabled such thoughts. Read the full column here.
The column also included inside nuggets on Philadelphia and Chicago.
Kessel has 29 points (10g, 19a) in 29 games. His contract runs for three years beyond this season and the Penguins absorb a $6.8 million cap hit. Toronto still eats $1.2 million annually, stemming from the 2015 trade with brought Kessel to Pittsburgh in exchange for a package which included a first-round pick and prospect Kasperi Kapanen.
Similar scuttle surfaced over the summer, as well. But Penguins fans vociferously rejected the idea of the Penguins moving the two-time Stanley Cup winner.
Kessel is in the midst of a seven-game goalless drought as Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan juggles the lines in an effort to distribute scoring to each line. However, the Kessel-Derick Brassard has received mixed reviews, at best. Brassard was forced to address the difficulties at practice, Monday.
Penguins GM Jim Rutherford is believed to be looking at additional moves this season but does not have many pieces to deal, nor can the Penguins prospect pool afford to lose another first round choice. Friedman cautioned to stay tuned.