For a few weeks now we have been hearing rumors of a potentially massive trade involving the Pittsburgh Penguins and on Tuesday we got even more information that suggests such a trade is in fact very likely to happen this summer.
The talk about a potential trade involving Pittsburgh Penguins star Phil Kessel started when rumors began to leak out of the Penguins organization regarding a potentially deteriorating relationship between Kessel and Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan. Many in the Pittsburgh media took notice when Sullivan went out of his way to call out Kessel after the Penguins were eliminated from the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs and the sense ever since has been that the Penguins would rather have Kessel playing somewhere else come the 2018-2019 National Hockey League regular season.
Now to be clear the Penguins would be perfectly alright with having Kessel back on their roster next season but it does seem like if they can get a good return on the aging forward that general manager Jim Rutherford would pull the trigger on a trade deal. The question of course becomes where could Phil Kessel end up? What teams could even manage to fit his rather large cap hit on their roster next season without putting themselves in a tough cap situation?
It's unclear at this time who the Penguins have been talking to regarding the Kessel trade but one rather shocking name has come up a couple of times now and it appears that we have some measure on confirmation regarding that rumor. On Tuesday Penguins insider Josh Yohe of The Athletic is reporting that Phil Kessel would like to go play for the Arizona Coyotes organization. That may sounds like a crazy report from Yohe but he is pretty flawless when it comes to Penguins related news and if he says that's where Kessel wants to go you can bet that is indeed the case.
According to Yohe Kessel's desire to play for the Arizona Coyotes is a direct result of his relationship with former National Hockey League forward Rick Tocchet. Tocchet just so happens to be the current head coach of the Arizona Coyotes and that seems to be enough for Kessel to look past all the problems within that organization, although unfortunately it does not sound like that is going to happen for him.
However, the Coyotes have informed the Penguins that such a transaction isn’t likely to happen for financial reasons. Kessel is owed $6.8 million per season for four more years — the Maple Leafs are responsible for the other $1.2 million of his contract — and the Coyotes simply aren’t willing to take on that kind of money. Arizona management told the Penguins it is intending on merely reaching the salary cap floor during the 2018-19 season.
In spite of that it's quite clear that the Penguins and the Coyotes have indeed had some trade talks in recent days, although it's unclear at this time if Kessel was ever a part of those conversations. That would seem to indicate that Rutherford may be trying to find a way to make the money work for Coyotes general manager John Chayka, whether or not that will be successful remains to be seen.