On his bi-weekly podcast, TSN Insider Bob McKenzie dove straight into the Phil Kessel trade situation.
McKenzie acknowledged Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford’s effort to “calm the waters” regarding the speculation and discussions regarding Kessel, but also suggested reports in “Pittsburgh media, quite correctly, that Kessel is eminently available.” Though McKenzie also acknowledged a deal isn’t assured unless the Penguins get “the right price.”
As a couple other national reporters have done, McKenzie linked the L.A. Kings to Kessel. Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger are the others who have linked the Kings and Pens on a Kessel deal.
Pittsburgh Hockey Now was able to link the Penguins to two “Eastern conference non-playoff teams” in the first report of Kessel trade talks.
The Kings are shopping for a scoring winger. Montreal Canadiens Max Pacioretty and Carolina Hurricanes sidecar Jeff Skinner are the other names linked to the Kings, who excelled at shot suppression again this season but floundered in the offensive zone.
McKenzie concluded, “Keep an eye on guys like Kessel. Skinner in Carolina is quite likely to be dealt.”
For trade rumor junkies, McKenzie also tossed up Buffalo Sabres center Ryan O’Reilly’s name. He linked Buffalo and Carolina, in perhaps an O’Reilly-for-Skinner deal.
O’Reilly was extremely critical of the Sabres lax attitude and the team’s willingness to “accept losing” in his final media availability this season. O’Reilly has five years left on a contract with a $7.5 million average annual cap hit. Skinner has just one year left on a $5.7 million per year contract but also has a full no-trade clause.
With free agency close, Skinner may need some convincing to accept a ticket to perennially struggling Buffalo.