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Are the Penguins softening their stance on Phil Kessel?

June 1, 2019, 10:44 AM ET [121 Comments]
Ryan Wilson
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Phil Kessel likely has an artificial full no trade clause. The teams on is list probably consist of divisional rivals and teams that would never want him. As a result it appears the Penguins are realizing that they may not be moving on from Kessel. From Pierre Lebrun of The Athletic

My read on that is that GM Jim Rutherford is only going to trade Kessel in a real hockey deal where he gets tangible assets in return. He’s not looking to make a soft deal where it’s just about dumping Kessel — who remains an offensive force — Rutherford wants a return that reflects that. Which is why Pittsburgh could have certainly lived with what Minnesota was willing to part with including Jason Zucker.
Could Kessel soften his stance and eventually agree to a move to Minnesota? It’s not out of the question. But in the meantime, I think he’s hoping a trade materializes with a team he’d rather go to. Arizona would fit that description, where a reunion with Rick Tocchet would await. But I don’t think the Coyotes have the pieces that interest Pittsburgh at this point.

Well, yeah. Why would anybody sell low on a point per game player? It never made sense to dump Phil Kessel for spare parts. I don’t think it makes a lot of sense to trade him at all. I think it is going to be too difficult to find a team and a return for the Penguins to break even on a deal, let alone “win” the deal. Phil isn’t going to make Jim Rutherford’s life easy. He is going to have a say in his destination.

The Penguins need to come to grips that allowing Kessel to return to the team might be their best move of the summer. If they don’t get proper value they aren’t going to be able to recover from it. They don’t have many futures or valuable trade assets. The cupboard is pretty bare. Perhaps playing chicken with one of your more talented players isn’t the most prudent path. Especially one with a limited market and a huge say in his destination.

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