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Fallout of the failed Phil Kessel trade to Minnesota?

Pittsburgh is still not bringing him back under any circumstances. They’re determined to start next season with Phil Kessel off their roster.

What happens next if Pittsburgh can’t find a trade partner without Kessel’s permission (a very difficult task with how purposely difficult Kessel has made his list) will be the fascinating part of how long Kessel tries to take this. He knows he’s not wanted back but the sense of the situation is that it wouldn’t stop Kessel from taking things to July or even August if a suitable trade destination doesn’t emerge before then.

And that’s the worst case scenario for the Penguins right now who wanted to get this done before the end of the month, though, I’d argue they’ve made their own bed as based on Kessel’s low trade value which was established even as far back as last summer, his greatest value to Pittsburgh is being in a Penguin uniform on opening night. Word continues to circulate at least from the Penguins end that things got bad behind the scenes last spring but this isn’t some type of Antonio Brown situation.

Subtracting talent for team chemistry and more buy-in players can always be a risky route but this is what the Penguins have set their sights to do this off-season and one way or another, they’re going to do it, sources say.

The Penguins for months had planned to trade Kessel this summer and the belief around the league even right after the February trade deadline was that Jim Rutherford & Co were always going to make Kessel the scapegoat if there was an early exit, and that only enhanced during organization meetings immediately after being swept by the Islanders. A unanimous decision in the organization was made to trade Kessel by the time Pittsburgh’s concluded their first and second phase of organization meetings which were done during the first week of May.

League sources say before Penguins GM Jim Rutherford took about 10-14 days away to decompress all the info that was brought to the table by multiple parties, he informed rival General Manager’s in early May of an internal deadline to complete a Phil Kessel trade before the start of the Stanley Cup Final. Rutherford had thought he accomplished that goal. The Minnesota scenario was put in play about two weeks before it got leaked and it was something GM Paul Fenton wanted to sit on it for a week or two and on To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”! but a decision from Kessel was already made by the time the official paperwork got to Kessel and his agency. Newport Sports that reps Kessel is plugged-in like no other agency and they got wind To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”! Kessel’s reps had already provided him thorough information on the Wild’s roster, prospect system, coaching tactics of Bruce Boudreau, what players think of playing in Minnesota, [hide] ect.

When Pittsburgh officially made the trade request, it was a pretty quick no from Kessel. Wild GM Paul Fenton who initially had trouble getting a returned call from Kessel, had no luck in swaying Kessel as by Friday morning the trade is said to have been 100% dead. A source says Kessel’s conversation with Fenton was a ‘respectable’ short one.

The Penguins are extremely frustrated. They felt they were sending Kessel to an ideal destination for him personally. Close to his hometown, he’d be a front-line player, get to play for a very good coach with a history of coaching high-end players and Kessel has some friendships with some top Wild players where Pittsburgh thought he would strongly consider waiving.

“We’re not trying to trade him to f****** Siberia [Ottawa],” a high ranking Penguins source said of Kessel declining the trade, referencing the team didn’t ask for his permission to go to somewhere like Ottawa.

What’s at play here is Phil will get moved on his terms and the grind is on between the two sides.

As the Kessel camp keeps telling me, ‘the list is the list’ and ‘it’s May’. There’s going to be no rush from Kessel’s point of view, while the pressure turns on the Penguins.

“His [Phil Kessel] list is a f****** joke,” a Penguins source said of Kessel’s 8-team list.

Kessel has always formulated his trade list (accept) with teams up against the cap who would be unlikely to trade for him. Penguin officials, though, feel Kessel went above and beyond with his updated list that the team requested where two Western Conference teams that had been on Kessel’s list for 5+ years (were teams that the Kessel camp was aware kicked tires on Kessel prior to the 2018 draft) were suddenly removed and replaced by teams the Penguins feel are a joke that would never try to trade for Kessel.

The Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Islanders, and Boston Bruins are the six clear cut teams on Kessel’s list the Penguins internally just laugh at for various reasons.

Tampa which was recently added (during the last request by the team) per a source, has had the Penguins chuckling..….. Rangers coach David Quinn is best friends with Mike Sullivan so draw your own conclusions…… Philadelphia and Pittsburgh coming together on a Kessel trade isn’t happening……Toronto and Boston is just LOL…… Lou Lamoriello whose first case of business in Toronto was trading Kessel, is never going to touch him……

It’s no secret around the league that the Kessel camp has been trying to orchestrate a trade to the Arizona Coyotes for their client, yet, there’s whispers Kessel took Arizona off his list the most recent time Pittsburgh asked for an updated list just to make a power move and make his acceptable trade list more difficult.

On the heels of Kessel blocking the Minnesota trade, Rutherford in the immediate aftermath has gone on with his business of trying to get more teams to the table, (two teams not on Kessel’s list and one that is), while Arizona is hovering around but more in the mold of sitting back kind of like the Oakland Raiders did with Antonio Brown. Just waiting things out as they’ve yet to put their cards on the table. [/hide]