Updates on Kessel and Vanek – July 13, 2017

by | Jul 13, 2017 | Rumors | 81 comments

Could the Pittsburgh Penguins trade Phil Kessel?

Could the Pittsburgh Penguins trade Phil Kessel? Will the Detroit Red Wings bring back Thomas Vanek? Read on for the latest in your NHL rumor mill. 

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Ron Cook believes the departure of former Penguins assistant coach Rick Tocchet to the Arizona Coyotes could lead to right wing Phil Kessel getting traded at some point. He claims the Penguins organization wasn’t thrilled with Kessel’s performance.

The winger scored 23 goals during the regular season, and while he had 23 points in 25 playoff games this spring, “it was hard to find anyone in the organization to say he was playing well.” Cook believes Evgeni Malkin wasn’t happy to be on the same line with Kessel and notes Penguins coach Mike Sullivan admitted Kessel has no chemistry with center Sidney Crosby.

Cook said Tocchet was able to keep Kessel focused and acted as a buffer between the winger and Sullivan. He also think the Penguins should try to shed Kessel’s expensive contract. He carries a $6.8 million cap hit with the Penguins (the Toronto Maple Leafs carry $1.2 million annually) through 2021-22. Combined with Kessel’s modified no-trade clause, Cook thinks that won’t be easy to move. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yes, Kessel netted just 23 goals last season, but he also collected a career-high 47 assists. His 70 points placed him third among Penguins scorers and was the second-highest single-season total in his career. Yes, Kessel can be streaky but his contributions to the Penguins consecutive championship runs in 2016 and 2017 cannot be overlooked. Indeed, there were those suggesting Kessel, not Crosby, should’ve won the Conn Smythe trophy in 2016.

Yes, he clashed at times with Malkin, lacks chemistry with Crosby (except on the power play, leading the Pens last season with 30 PP points.). Yes, Tocchet was invaluable working with Kessel, but his replacement, Mark Recchi, could also have a positive influence. So it seems premature to suggest Kessel will be traded in the near future. 

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Helene St. James reports the Detroit Red Wings remain in contact with unrestricted free agent winger Thomas Vanek, who played most of last season with Detroit. However, several hurdles remain, especially the club’s limited salary cap space, with $5 million allocated for Tomas Tatar and another million for Andreas Athanasiou. 



  1. I heard, heresay and extreme weak rumour mind you.

    That Puttsburgh is pitching Kessel to SJ of Pavelski.

    • SJ would have to be absolutely nuts to make that deal.

      • With all the respect due to a wizened hockey scholar who, by his admission, is everybody’s senior, I have to question your evaluation. Pavelski is 4 years older than Kessel, appears to be slowing, and was largely criticized for his performance when their teams met in the playoffs, while Kessel was lauded.. Kessel makes $800 thousand more, but $1.2 million of that is paid by the Leafs. Pavelski is said to be more charismatic, but Kessel leads by producing more in big games__Kessel is plus-28 lifetime in playoff hockey, while Pavelski is plus-3. I can see Pittsburgh making that trade if they are desperate to acquire a centre (not center, in deference to you), but for no other reason.

      • I’m “old” Frank – we all get there (IF we’re lucky) – but I object to “wizened” -LOL. Why would I prefer Pavelski over Kessel? He simply has more heart and will go where fools fear to tread – something that Kessel never embraced. It’s why he can’t work with either Crosby or Malkin who both like their wingers to dig diligently for pucks in the corners where the big D dole out their punishment. Just my opinion – and last I looked I’m entitled to one – just like you.

    • Unlikely SJ moves Pavelski in some form of deal for Kessel? What’s gained? Pavelski although primarily deployed at RW the last 2 years is really a C & he & Thornton form Sj’s 1st line. He is even a better goal scorer than Kessel & a far better player.

      • Striker you have a total lack of appreciation for Kessel game. He is a pure goal scorer. There is a reason many thought he should’ve won the cons the year before. Thanks but I’ll keep Phil the Thrill.

    • why not… they could also pitch him for draisatl, seguin, Bergeron, barkov… mcdavid?

      • Lol

    • LOL. See what you started Jeff with your “heresay and extreme(ly) weak rumour” – and hey, nothing wrong with that if it promotes legitimate debate. That’s what many so-called hockey journalists/broadcasters/”insiders” do after all.

      • Hey. Never claimed i agree with it.

        Just that I gearx this rumour. I should add the source isnt reliable and tends to attempt to attract people with “click bait”

        Hence heresay abd weak.

      • Oh and i was looking dor all your opinions. So thanks.

    • Kessel will be tough to move with 5 years left on his contract. only way he gets moved is if the Pens do it for cap space and take a small return. then use that for cap space for Duchene. He’s younger.

  2. Kessel’s been a lazy floater since his Bruins days. One dimensional player with no heart. I will say this though, he definitely got jobbed when Cindy got the Conn Smythe after the 15-16 playoffs.

    No way I trade Pavelski for Kessel straight up.

    • I don’t think he got jobbed, that’s just fate not rewarding a player who chose to turn it on for 1 month…of his career.

      Whether the Leafs lost the trade in a hockey sense or not, with the young players that were coming it was an absolute necessity to rid the dressing room of this type of player.

      Seems Malkin is one of the more easy going guys in the league and if he could not stand him, that speaks volumes.

      • He only lost the conn smythe because of the good ol boy Canadian club that is so frustrated by Canada’s slowly diminishing role in the nhl they made sure a Canadian got the award. Kessel is a dang solid piece for the pens and unless he brought back a GOOD third line center plus other assetsthere is no sense in trading him. Crosby never has any chemistry with other star players… the closet being hossa and that was tough to watch at times. Give him the sheary’s and dupuis and armstrongs and he tears it up.

    • Who’s Cindy? Don’t be classless.

      • Agree Caper. Never could understand this tiny-tot use of name-butchering when it comes to players AND teams.

      • But OK to call others names George?

        Ron’s Ron. If he wants to call Crosby names who cares, certainly not Crosby. The best player in the world bare non & has now moved to #3 on my all time list.

      • Like what for example? I have NEVER resorted to butchering someone’s name or even “pen-name.” I have, on the other hand, used terms such as narcissist or sycophant as and where I felt appropriate – and accepted as opinion (even if I didn’t like it) when someone throws similar descriptive words back at me. Never pretended to be perfect.

        But things like “Laffs” and “Senaturds” and “Cindy” and “Blowzak” are simply childish taunts that have NO place in presumably serious debate.

      • Yeah Ron !, We are talking about #3 on Strikers all time greats list … show a little respect!

      • chrisms lol crosby dosnt have chemistry with other nhl stars ? what about malkin , bergeron , marchand hossa ect. crosby can play with anyone and that is why when he plays with players such as dupuis he can tear it up.. cups arnt one with one star player. chemistry is key to winning . he can play with anyone including kessel ,that is if kessel wasnt such a one way player. kessel has had the potential to be one of the best players in the world if he would have learned to play a two way game . he had the chance when being coached by claude julian who is one of the best defensive coaches ever and kessel wouldnt have it so off he went . it is very possible that kessel could have had another cup in boston had he not been so unwilling to play in julians system. if kessel put the effort that crosby does into his game he would be one of the best in the world and the talk of him being traded would not happen as much as it does.

      • I see nobody has waded into the Chrisms comment:
        He only lost the conn smythe because of the good ol boy Canadian club that is so frustrated by Canada’s slowly diminishing role in the nhl they made sure a Canadian got the award.
        But as a ol boy from Canada, I will.
        Chrisms – who do you think votes on this award? How many members are from Canada and how many from the USA? (you may want to check) Why would you assume that professional journalists would change their votes based on country of origin?

      • Chris. Besides the “hockey” in the olympics and worlds crosby has played with few stars regularly. Malkin rarely plays with him off power play. Crosby has been studdly with Kunitz guentzel dupius army etc. his style generally fits those players mold

        Bark. Looks pretty red and white to me.

      • Hey Ray Bark. The O’ Canadian boy club is something I thought of in regards to why Karllsson gets passed up for the Norris.

        Give it to Doughty because Karlsson was too offensive. Then give it to Burns cause he scored 30+ goals.

        It was a theiry i pondered.

        I also wonder if they give some rewards to guys they feel ate long over due. Fi alky get the chance to award them.

        If karlsson hadnt already won twice perhaps it woyld of tilted it in his favour.

        All garbage theories, but intertaining to ponder.

      • Hey Jeff, as for Doughty, I think your theory of long overdue might have merit. In my opinion I loved to see Doughty win it as I think it leans too heavy to offence. A D-man’s most important job is to defend, hence the name of the position. Lidstrom won his share doing both, Chara got one but only after a big offensive year for him. The hockey writers association votes on the Conn Smythe by the way, every NHL team is represented, to me it looks like more writers from the USA on their website so I doubt there is a Canadian bias I also doubt these professionals are that shallow.

    • Disliking Crosby is one thing, Ron, and you’re welcome to that opinion. However, you don’t do yourself or your views any favors by stooping to namecalling. It’s childish and smacks of misogyny.

      • Much like I said yesterday, Lyle, with the use of “Blowzak” – although with the reaction you’d think I attacked someone with a two-by-four!

      • Striker, Crosby is a great player no doubt…. but #3 all time? really…. Who’s he pushing out… Orr, Howe Gretzky… to go even further.. Messier,Lemieux, Jagr, Richard… I could go and on and not even mentioning any goalies…

      • As I have stated in the past hard to compare era’s but for me it’s Gretzky, Orr, Crosby. We don’t have to have the same lists & it’s extremely subjective.

      • Orr and Gretzky are a basic tie for me at #1 and I could go either way with that. Both changed the game and no player has done what both of those guys did offensively, before or since. Howe #3.
        For me Crosby needs to keep it going for a few more years to get into the top 3.

      • Cept Lemieux is tied with gretz or better.

      • Lemieux is the most dominant player I’ve ever seen, even more so than Gretzky. I didn’t see Bobby Orr play, but everyone from that generation said he is the best player they’ve ever seen given the way he controlled the game. I don’t see how Crosby cracks the top 3 or even 4 with Howe. No one today is as good as Gretzky or Lemieux, although McDavid may get there.

      • Mario Lemieux is the best player to ever play and it’s not even close.

        He could do things that even the greatest of other players could only dream of.

        Tyler Kennedy made a very compelling case for Crosby as the best ever. Basically that the goalies Gretzky scored on were terrible and the players were out of shape while “Sid is breaking through 4 players and scoring one handed backhand goal on guys who count calories.”

        But I saw them both and as great as Sid is, he can’t touch Lemieux.

        I also saw Gretzky. And while he is surely the most accomplished player ever, that’s not the same as being the best.

      • It’s the mesogyny paet which is the problem for me. Calling someone female in any way should not be an insault.

        Perhaps because along with my boy who will turn 2 in Aughust. I also have a little girl that will be 5 months in august.

        She shall never feel less than her brother due to her sex.

    • Cindy wow your a douche bag..kessel is a floater all be a talented and streaky on…he is overweight but he gets it done… I’m not making that trade….I would doa bigger one.. if we had to trade him

      RW Phil Kessel & D Oli Matta to Winnipeg jets
      C Matthw Perreault & D Jacob Trouba to Pittsburgh Penguins.

      Winnipegs gets a top score who can play with mark Scheiffle and Winnipegs high powered offense and they get a young top 4 d-man MATTA

      Pittsburgh gets their third line center Perreault and offensive improvement over Bonino and a top 4 young d-man Trouba (all be a RFA)back

      • Cindy is some of the Sidney Crosby haters nickname for Sidney Crosby…they are so jealous and hateful not much going on in their lives….Sidney is is a world class player on and off the ice unlike many pro athletes especially NBA, NFL, and MLB. Look i don’t like the Patriots organization at all but Tom Brady is a world class player and maybe the best QB ever i don’t call him names…

        Cindy I believe originated from Philadelphia where they cant stand him because well he keeps winning Stanley Cups which irks Philly fans…

    • i’ll take a wild guess here. You’re Canadian, right?

  3. When it matters most Kessel shows up(Playoffs, Olympics etc). This is due to Phil always being Phil compared to other players that show nerves or try too hard in critical moments. He is not stepping up he is just not stepping down.

    That said he was just as important in the 2016 run as any Penguin. If Sid and Malkin don’t want to skate with him the poor Penguins get a matchup favor on the 3rd line.

    • Shows up at the olympics? Lol. Where in the stands?

  4. Kessel is one of only a handful of players in the league that consistently performs better in big spots. Lots of players have that reputation because of a few big games but Phil’s numbers over a pretty good sample size show he scores and plays at a much better rate during the biggest events against the best players. Yet for some reason, he still gets called out for being lazy, not caring, or someone who disappears in the big game.

    He will always be a bit of a lightening rod because he is insanely shy and likely suffers from a lot of social anxiety or even generalized anxiety disorder. Most people who start out shy, but aren’t socially anxious tend to come out of their shell more and more when repeatedly in those situations. Kessel has been in front of cameras for a decade and seems as uncomfortable as ever. To me, when you see Kessel get visibly frustrated, the fact that he keeps playing, keeps trying, and does so at a high level speaks to how much he really cares about hockey, as not only does he do it at a high level, but he has the additional obstacle of it being coupled with likely being in situations that are essentially mental torture for him.

    Kessel’s personal image dictates what people think of him, and it’s very unfair. People who are shy (and likely suffer from some form of anxiety disorder) have an image that they are mentally weak, reserved, followers. So what happens is that whenever something matches that narrative people make the association more clearly. Perfect example is the perception of Kessel and Crosby.

    Kessel has a bad game in a big spot, it’s headlines about typical Kessel, disappearing, doesn’t get along with anyone, etc. Crosby has a bad game in a big spot, he worked hard, but didn’t get the bounces. These are all driven by what people’s perception of their personality is, and not the reality of what is happening. The reality is that their production in the playoffs and olypics has been very close over the course of their careers. Kessel is not Crosby, but even being remotely close to being as consistently productive on the biggest stages as the best player of a generation should stop all of the garbage journalism that says Kessel just disappears and is a team killer to rest, but it doesn’t.

    • Sorry but a clutch performer does not equate to 4 game winning goals in 71 playoff games and lets not forget his 38 giveaways.

      The plus minus on a stanley cup winning team means very little to me as it’s from PP time and of course being shielded on the third line where the checking is not nearly as fierce as the first two lines.

      I would take him on my team if and only it had a strong dressing room already and was poised as a cup contender, other wise a big pass for me.

      • Plus-minus statistics do not take power-play scores into account. They are based on even strength points.

      • Plus minus is fundamentally flawed, data could be kept differently to make it far more reflective but works some what for comparing players on the same team but not team to team.

    • Very well put Danny.

      I agree 100%

    • Very good Danny. Agree.

  5. I call BS on this entire Kessel story. The players and even Sullivan seem to genuinely like Phil and like playing with him. Just watch In The Room and 2 years of the all access Showtime show and you will see it. You may be able to say the right thing during an interview but you can’t fake your every day interactions. Even if you know the camera is on. When Obama singled Phil out at the White House the team seemed genuinely thrilled for him. And 6.8 million for 70 points is below the going rate. They can’t be that unhappy with his play. Anything to try and stir it up though. Create a soap opera where there isn’t one.

    • Kessel is a pure sniper and there isn’t enough of them to go around. I hope he stays in Pittsburgh to see if the Pens can do a threepeat.

    • I agree Deeeee. 1 of the issues for any center playing with Kessel is he likes to carry the puck, the reason he’s not a great fit with Malkin or Crosby & it works on the PP as they get in the zone set up & retain puck possession.

      Kessel is a pure 1 dimensional player, I don’t like him specifically but you can’t deny his ability to score & put up points.

      For me Guentzel deserved the Conn Smyth. 15 goals, 5 game winners 1 in OT, 21 points. If not for hitting the wall against Ott’s shut down system he may well have. He had 2 points in 1 game in that 7 game series there was even talk he might get sat going into the Cup Final.

      • While I agree with much of what has been said about Kessel, I STILL wouldn’t trade Pavelski even up to get him.

      • Nor would SJ.

      • Guess you didn’t watch Kessel backchecking the entire playoffs striker. one dimensional indeed.

        oh and 47 assists? from a one dimensional sniper?

      • Chrisms.

        I’m not slagging Kessel specifically. In fact I defend him constantly. He has had a very good career but he is an offensive player not a checker nor will he ever be. He is a 1 dimensional offensive player.

        I don’t like Kessel but I acknowledge his skill set & contribution. He played great in the playoffs & he did support the play in these playoffs. I would have selected him 2nd on my Conn Smyth list.

      • Excellent point Striker regarding Kessel wanting to carry the puck. In itself a great skill to have, but not when playing with a center who also drives the play. It makes Kessel valuable as he can help generate 5 on 5 offence playing with a lesser center, and obviously on the PP. Same was true with Hall when they tried to put him with McDavid in Edm, it actually took away from both their games. When he was with RNH and/or Eberle they deferred to Hall and it worked.

      • STRIKER…. Guentzal, Crosby,or Malkin all could have won the Conn Smythe easily…..no wrong choices…

    • Agree with Deeeee. This story is as bad as Ron calling Crosby Cindy. No difference at all. No way the pens win back to back cups with out him. Not one quote from anyone in the organization confirming any of this super market trash reporting. It’s actually very surprising to see something like this here. Definitely call BS on this one.

      • I can’t stand cook. He’s a great big cermudgin. But he rarely flys off the cuff with his stuff. I doubt he ran that without something from someone in the org. Giving him something.

  6. andreas athanasiou *** not Anthony

  7. Kessel is a bum. Let the pens have to deal with his salary thru 2021.

    • Well let’s just wait and see what Striker has to say about this, his spreadsheets and hockey pools are the real test of a players worth

      • Resentments much?

      • Kessel is a great offensive hockey player. 1 of the best from his era. He does things most players can’t do, he scores & puts up points at an elite rate & now has 2 Stanley Cup rings.

      • How much slack would be given to ‘one-dimensional’ players like Brett Hull, Gaborik,etc if they did not have multiple rings.

      • What has Stanley Cup rings got to do with anything striker? Claude Provost has NINE – and he’s not in the HofF.Kelly Buchberger has 2 cup rings for crying out loud, and a guy you detest – Nick Kypreos – boasts one, as does Brad May, Jon Sim, Mike Peluso, Dan Hinote – and on and on. Now I’m NOT suggesting Kessel is in that class of player by any stretch – just that “he’s hot 2 cup rings” means nothing in and of itself.

      • To further underline what I mean about Stanley Cup ring possession meaning nothing in and of itself, here’s a partial list of some pretty good players who never won a cup – and Phil Kessel is not even close to making this list: Marcel Dionne; Brad Park; Gilbert Perrault; Peter Stastny; Pat Lafontaine; Jean Ratelle; Norm Ullman; Michel Goulet; Mats Sundin; Adam Oates; Mike Gartner; Bernie Federko; Dino Ciccarelli; Jeremy Roaneke; Eric Lindros; Dale Hawarchuk; Darryl Sittler; Cam Neely; Phil Housely;Pierre Turgeon; Markis Naslund; Pavel Bure; Borje Salming; Bernie Nichols; Keith Tkachuk; Rod Gilbert; Wendel Clark; Trevor Linden; Dave Taylor; Daniel Alfredsson; Rick Martin; Mark Hoiw; Rick Vaive; Bill Gadsby

      • Daniel alfredson!?!?

        And the 2016-17 sens. Forgot them too george😋

      • my point was how much more slack would phil get without this pens run…

        like how Ovie is not a winner…

      • Yes Daniel Alfreddson. 18 seasons – 444 goals – 713 assists 1,157 points – why shouldn’t he make the list?

    • Great commentary! any more well formulated insight for us to digest?

      • Why make a list?

      • I specifically SAID why.

  8. Kessel story – a big NHL News in July nothing-burger.

  9. Sardis…hope your right about a summer July story from the burg…but usually where there is smoke there is some fire. Notice we heard nothing of the Kessel-Coach Sullivan relationship until Tocchet left…. stay tuned

  10. The Pens might well want to move Kessel but it has nothing to do with Phil being difficult, they just have a ton of good young wingers that make him and his big cap hit look expendable in the near future.

    Having said that, I don’t see where they could move him, given his cap hit, reputation and NTC.

    • Toronto?

      • How about Ottawa George? Then maybe he could make your list.

      • What’s that supposed to mean? “My list” of non-Cup winners has 34 names – one of which is a former Senator (there are, on the other hand, 5 ex-Leafs there).

  11. Pittsburgh won two cups despite Phil he is a cancer anybody could see how he acted on the ice and bench. Coach,s can only take so much Phil than they have to say goodbye. Pittsburgh good luck in trading him maybe L.A.

    • Two Cups despite him? What games were you watching?

    • And what do you have to say about Hornqvist and Crosby the year before? And did Malkin always look composed on the bench this year? All four looked foolish at one point or another so why put it all on one player?

      • Seems like we’ve touched a raw nerve with a Kessel-lover. There was a reason – and it had nothing to do with cap issues – that the Leafs couldn’t move him fast enough under the new regime. Same with Boston.

  12. Honestly you all can have all the fun you want discussing Kessel trades but I’m going to just lay it all on the line, just like Lyle did with his notes. Lyle was spot on accurate with his insite.

    Now I’m going to focus on the hack of a writer that brought this to light, Ron Cook.

    Lyle, first off I’m going to apologize to you, I should be kind in addressing people, but I can not say anything nice about Ron Cook, especially in recent years.

    Here’s the truth in Pittsburgh. Ron Cook is a hack of a writer and not even a shadow of his early years. The fact that he is allowed to continue to write and state his self benefactor opinions is a insult to all intelligent fans that exist in Pittsburgh. The truth is in recent years all Ron Cook has been good for is kissing Bob Nutting’s behind (co-pirates owner).

    Ron Cook’s opinion and insite when it comes to the penguins and Steelers have been incredibly way way way off. Honestly I believe he writes what he has in recent years because he has either forgotten how to write effective articles, he has become very jaded as a writer especially when it comes to sports, or he has become extremely senile and believes his own hype.