Insider Only NHL: Would the Penguins become players in the Phil Kessel sweepstakes?

Front office types believe we’re going to be in for a wild couple of months with trade movement leading into the expected April 5, 2013 trade deadline.
From Jarome Iginla to Bobby Ryan, big names could be on the move but who could be the most intriguing name around the league?

The answer is Toronto’s Phil Kessel.
An NHL source says a lot of eyes are going to be on Toronto to see if new GM Dave Nonis looks to move on from trying to build the franchise around Phil Kessel, who was Brian Burke’s baby.
Kessel, 25, has 2 years remaining on his deal with a cap hit of $5.4 million. He’s scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent following the 2013-2014 season.
Kessel had 37 goals and 82 points last season for the Leafs and has scored 30+ goals in four straight seasons.
For all the heat Brian Burke took for the Kessel trade, at 25 years old, Kessel is a premier winger in the game but is he a franchise player you try to build around?
“That’s what Nonis needs to decide,” an NHL source said.
Interest would be significant if Nonis put Kessel in play, based on talk from those around the league. “This {Kessel becoming available} would have Philadelphia written all over it. They badly want a long-term guy next to Giroux,” the source said.
Would the Penguins become players in the Kessel sweepstakes if Nonis were to put him on the market at somepoint this year?.
“Could you imagine him in a complementary role behind Malkin and Crosby”? the source said. “That would be a great spot for him. “He’s not a 1 guy [Franchise Player} but he’s a very good 2 [Star player}. Losing Staal will hurt {them} and they need a guy who can take over a playoff series when 71 and 87 don’t have it going.”
“Is the Bennett kid going to be that guy? I’m not sure.”
The Penguins this past summer coveted a long-term winger for Sidney Crosby, making a big play for Zach Parise and also looked into Rick Nash but never got serious for Nash. The Penguins were also never big this summer on pursuing Bobby Ryan when the Ducks were dangling him.
The Penguins brass believed Parise was the perfect winger for Crosby and if the Penguins were to go all in for Kessel, they would need to feel the same way, team contacts say.
Kessel would be a dynamic player on the wing and give the Penguins that lethal shot from the left side on the power play that they desperately lack with Malkin, Neal and Crosby all being left handed shots.
The Penguins have the assets in their system on defense that could put them in play for him but the Leafs would surely want some scoring in return for Kessel, which could make the Penguins a tough fit, were they to chase Kessel.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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