Latest Penguins and Devils Speculation – June 4, 2018
The latest on Phil Kessel and Cory Schneider in your NHL rumor mill.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Jonathan Bombulie recently examined what it would take for the Pittsburgh Penguins to trade Phil Kessel. The veteran winger has been the subject of growing trade speculation since the club was eliminated from the second round of the 2018 playoffs by the Washington Capitals.
Bombulie wondered if there’s any way the Penguins can be a better team without Kessel’s offense. If they were to move him, “they likely wouldn’t swap him for an impact player with a salary similar to the relatively reasonable $6.8 million annual cap hit they’re charged for his services.” Instead, the idea would be to add a two-way, top-nine winger, preferably on the left side, a middle-pair defenseman and perhaps some prospect depth.
Bombulie suggested “it would probably take a perfect offer and a series of good breaks for the Penguins to deal Kessel without suffering a drop in offensive production.” If a trade isn’t in the works, he felt “a reconciliation of grievances” between Kessel and head coach Mike Sullivan would be worthwhile.
DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Josh Lile recently suggested if the Penguins were silly enough to trade Kessel he’d be an ideal trade target for the Dallas Stars. He pointed out Kessel is under contract for four more seasons, the Stars wouldn’t be picking up his full salary-cap hit (the Toronto Maple Leafs pay $1.2 million of his $8-million annual average value), and he would provide invaluable offensive depth at right wing.
“As long as the ask doesn’t involve Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, John Klingberg, Miro Heiskanen, Esa Lindell (maybe), or Radulov the price is unlikely to be prohibitive,” said Lile. “Adding Kessel to that group would be a coup.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford recently dismissed the Kessel speculation as being blown out of proportion. “So I don’t feel that we have to trade Phil Kessel,” Rutherford said. He claimed the reason they failed to “three-peat” was his roster lacked the energy to win three championships in a row. “I’m not sure anybody has it”, he said. “To me, that’s ultimately what happened to us this year. I don’t think pointing the finger at any one guy as the reason we didn’t win the Cup is fair at all.”
Still, it doesn’t mean there won’t be interest in Kessel’s services. Rutherford probably won’t discourage inquiries, but as Bombulie points out, it’ll take a significant offer to entice him. He won’t trade Kessel just to be rid of him. He’ll want something that helps them next season and over the long term.
Kessel’s offensive skills would certainly interest other clubs in need of scoring punch. But while interested parties won’t be taking on his full cap hit, $6.8 million annually for four seasons is still a lot of money. Even with the cap ceiling expected to jump to around $80 million next season, that doesn’t mean there’s lots of teams that can comfortably take on his cap hit. Many of those who do could have other significant needs at different positions to address. Some could be budget clubs that will only spend so much above the cap floors.
Kessel also has a modified no-trade clause listing eight preferred trade destinations. Yes, he could broaden his list but he’s not going to do it for everyone. Maybe a team like Dallas makes the cut, maybe not.
Just wondering if Lou Lamoriello might call up Ray Shero in NJ to see if he can get Cory Schneider as his Islander goalie since he’s traded for him once before. If Jersey thinks Kincaid can be a No. 1, maybe they can get No. 11 or No. 12 pick from NYI n June draft.
— Jim Matheson (@NHLbyMatty) May 31, 2018
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lamoriello could make that call but I’m not sure Shero is keen to make that move. Keith Kinkaid has a limited body of work as a starter. Shero could prefer assessing his current goalie tandem intact for another season before opting for changes.
If Shero were to shop Schneider, I think he’ll want a good young player who can help his lineup right now. Schneider also has a full no-trade clause and would have to bless this move.