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A 92 point regular season won’t have Phil Kessel’s name escaping the trade rumor mill over the next month in a half.
Kessel’s poor performance in the postseason followed by a continued rift with head coach Mike Sullivan has only heightened the situation regarding Kessel this coming summer.
Sources tell Inside Pittsburgh Sports, the coaching staff has reached the point with Kessel where they feel if he’s not producing offensively, he’s a detriment to the lineup 5-on-5 because of his inability to do the little things away from the puck.
Pittsburgh had some serious trade talks last summer with To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!
From NHL executives, to top NHL insiders, it’s no secret around the league that Pittsburgh will entertain Kessel trade scenarios leading into the draft.
Here was Elliotte Friedman’s take on Kessel last week, transcribed by Chris Nichols.
“I think they would,” Friedman said of the Penguins moving Kessel. “I thought it was really interesting how Mike Sullivan said he wouldn’t talk about injuries but said Kessel wasn’t hurt that badly. That’s like having a city bus drive over you a little bit. I think that reveals that Sullivan was really frustrated with Kessel, and he has been from time to time. Rutherford obviously was a little quieter, didn’t go that far. The one thing about Jim Rutherford and Pittsburgh is that they’re in it to win it as long as Crosby and Malkin are in their primes, right. They look at it like, ‘We’re going for it while these guys are still in the primes of their career.’
“So I really believe that… I watched his press conference yesterday and he’s saying, ‘We’re going to do some stuff and we are going to be different.’ I think he’s the kind of guy who’s liable to try anything.”
Kessel has four years remaining on his deal with a $6.8 million cap hit. He’s due to make $26 million in actual money over the remainder of the contract, with $21 million of it paid from the Penguins.
Kessel’s no trade clause allows him to accept a trade to only eight teams and each July 1 the Kessel camp often make the list with teams right up against the cap that hinder the chances of Kessel bring traded.
One Eastern Conference Executive to TIOPS on Kessel:
“The guy is greatly To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!
Here was the key comment, though, from the executive on why the trade market for Kessel would be very limited.