The Pittsburgh Penguins were finally able to move Phil Kessel after weeks of turmoil, and the Arizona Coyotes finally get the scorer that they need to start competing.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have ended the Phil Kessel saga in Pittsburgh after months of rumors, trading Kessel, Dane Birks, and a 2021 fourth round pick to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for forward Alex Galchenyuk and defensive prospect Pierre-Oliver Joseph.
Kessel has spent the last four seasons with the Penguins after being traded from the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2015, being one of the key components in the Penguins back to back Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017, and his production hasn’t dropped off a bit with 82 points in 82 games last season with the Penguins.
In return, the Penguins are getting Galchenyuk from the Coyotes. Galchenyuk was acquired last season by Arizona from the Montreal Canadiens, and was a bit of a disappointment by only scoring 41 points in 72 games, and being bumped all the way down to the fourth line in Arizona more than once throughout the season. His best season came in 2015-16, when he scored 30 goals in 82 games for Montreal.
Pittsburgh Penguins Trade Grade: B-
After months of rumors, the Pittsburgh Penguins have finally found a suitor for Phil Kessel, ending the rumors and turmoil that have surrounded the organization ever since their first round playoff loss at the hand of the New York Islanders.
The Penguins trying to move Kessel has been the worst kept secret in the NHL for several weeks after reports of numerous botched trades, most notably a trade with the Minnesota Wild that would’ve sent Jason Zucker to Pittsburgh in exchange for Kessel.
At the end of the day, the Penguins had to move on from Kessel with how toxic the relationship had become both ways. It was no secret that the relationship between Penguins coach Mike Sullivan and Kessel was strained. Sure they could’ve kept him, but then who knows when a boiling over point tanks Kessel’s value and they have to trade him for pennies on the dollar, or risk having him become disinterested in playing.
The return for Pittsburgh is still quite weak regardless. Galchenyuk at his best can’t replace the production of Kessel, and Jospeh doesn’t seem to trending towards being anything above a third pairing defender.
The question now for Pittsburgh is was the return enough to keep the team on the road towards Stanley Cup contention, and can Galchenyuk bounce back to be the kind of player he was expected to be in Arizona? Placing him on the wing of Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin should be enough to revitalize him, but even if not, the additional cap space cleared up by the trade should make room to add a free agent to make an impact.
Arizona Coyotes Trade Grade: A-
This is the trade that the Coyotes have needed for several years now, and is one that will almost certainly be the piece that finally push them towards serious playoff contention after years on the outside looking in. Getting a potential point per game player in Kessel is exactly what this team has been craving for what seems like forever.
This is the first time that the Coyotes have gotten a real star player like Kessel to come and play for their team through a trade or free agency. Kessel brings offense and he brings Stanley Cup winning experience to a team sorely lacking both. They also get Kessel locked down at a $6.8M cap hit for the next three seasons
The Coyotes came close to a playoff spot last seaosn despite dealing with injuries up and down the lineup, but that is something that they won’t have to worry about with Kessel. Kessel has played 774 consecutive games, dating all the way back to 2009, the eight longest streak in NHL history and third longest active streak in the league.
The biggest asset given up by the Coyotes in this deal was Galchenyuk, whom they’ve only had for one season and had a down year for them. Also with the amount of youth that the Coyotes have, they could afford to send a prospect like Joseph away in this deal, who alos doesn’t seem to be projecting towards anything above a third pairing defender. They should be more than happy to pay that price to finally get someone to drive their offense in Kessel.