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Penguins testing the market with Phil Kessel

December 5, 2018, 11:46 AM ET [162 Comments]
Ryan Wilson
Pittsburgh Penguins Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Today in 31 Thoughts from Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet

8. According to multiple sources, Pittsburgh “tested the market” on Phil Kessel. This one is tricky, because the Penguins appear to have decided to hold off on anything involving him for the time being, but that doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t be revisited. Three weeks ago, the Penguins were last in the Eastern Conference. Tuesday’s win over Colorado put them within two points of the playoffs, and who is betting against them? GM Jim Rutherford’s been searching for ways to upgrade the roster. He’s made two moves — Carl Hagelin to Los Angeles for Tanner Pearson, Daniel Sprong to Anaheim for Marcus Pettersson — but is eyeing more. The Penguins don’t have a ton to trade without seriously altering the team. Kessel has some control of the process with partial no-trade protection. Toronto still pays $1.2 million of his $8-million salary. The winger has 10 goals and 29 points in 26 games, so the production is still there. We’ll see where it goes.

I have talked about the Penguins re-evaluating the Kessel situation after every year because he is at an age where decline is incredibly possible and they should get ahead of it before his value plummets and his contract is an albatross. We are NOT at that point. Phil is one of the only consistent offensive threats that this team has. This team is never going to be a defensive team and trading away one of your best offensive weapons would not help. Phil Kessel is the definition of a win now player and it is strange the team would consider moving Phil and not Patric Hornqvist if they really felt like they needed a shakeup.

This is only my own speculation, but if part of this Kessel trade talk has to do with Mike Sullivan getting frustrated with Kessel I would be more worried about the coach than the player. Sullivan seems to be having issues with certain players that can't get out of his dog house (Sprong, Cole, potentially Kessel). I don't believe Sullivan has done a great job of putting players in positions to succeed recently. I think he harps too much on the negatives instead of embracing the positives. He needs to realize the kind of roster he has been given. Outside of the 2015-16 season when the team was firing on all cylinders the Penguins really haven't been great. They've been average to good and sometimes worse. His path has a lot of similarities to Dan Bylsma. The Penguins success has largely been PDO infused and has leaned heavily on the star players to perform at a high level.

We'll have to keep an eye on this as we move forward.

Thanks for reading!
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