Penguins Trade Kessel to Coyotes
The Pittsburgh Penguins tonight traded right wing Phil Kessel, defenseman Dane Birks, and a fourth-round pick to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for center Alex Galchenyuk and defenseman Pierre-Olivier Joseph.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: After weeks of trade speculation surrounding Kessel, the Penguins finally find a team he was willing to waive his no-trade clause for. They also get themselves a decent return in the process.
Kessel, 32, is a point-per-game winger who helped the Penguins win consecutive Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017. However, his rumored clashes with coach Mike Sullivan and sometimes difficult relationship with center Evgeni Malkin became issues as the Penguins struggled this season.
Some might question the Coyotes adding Kessel to their young lineup. However, they were reportedly among the clubs on his eight-team trade list. He also had a good relationship with Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet during the latter’s tenure with the Penguins.
The Coyotes need some experienced offensive skill, which Kessel can still provide. Playing for Tocchet with the Coyotes promising youngsters away from the harsh media spotlight could prove beneficial for the veteran sniper.
Birks, 23, played three seasons at Michigan Tech and his first full pro season in the ECHL. He’ll likely spend next season with the Coyotes’ farm team.
This is the second time in as many years Galchenyuk’s been traded. Last summer, he was shipped to the Coyotes by the Montreal Canadiens for Max Domi. In 72 games, the 25-year-old tallied 19 goals and 41 points this season. He’s a former 30-goal scorer who might reach those heights again skating with teammates like Malkin and Sidney Crosby.
Joseph, 19, was also a nice addition by the Penguins. The former Charlottetown Islanders defenseman exceeded 45 points in the QMJHL for the second straight season. A first-round pick (23rd overall) in the 2017 NHL Draft, the 6’2″ Joseph is a mobile rearguard with solid offensive skills. He could blossom into a top-four d-man with the Penguins.
The Penguins also freed up valuable cap space. Kessel has three years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $6.8 million. Galchenyuk has one year left at $4.9 million and becomes a UFA next summer. This frees up $1.9 million for the Penguins, giving them over $5 million to invest in the free-agent market on Monday.