Pittsburgh Penguins Trade Chatter: Phil Kessel Isn’t and Shouldn’t Be a Target in Pittsburgh


Trade rumors have been flying across the league, especially in Pittsburgh as we crawl closer to the NHL Draft. According to Jim Rutherford, the Pittsburgh Penguins will be looking to add a top-six winger to play with Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby next season.

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Rumors surfaced Wednesday morning that the Penguins will be adding Sergei Plotnikov of the KHL when free agency begins on July 1. With the signing of Plotnikov the Pittsburgh Penguins will add a valuable winger, but they are not done looking for top-six talent by any means. There are a few big name superstars rumored to be headed to the Steel City next season that I discussed in my last article.

Aside from maybe T.J. Oshie, those names seem to be a far reach. But, if there is any truth to those rumblings, the Pittsburgh Penguins need to consider that high-profile answers aren’t always the answer.

Why Phil Kessel to Pittsburgh Shouldn’t, and Likely Won’t Happen

Phil Kessel and Sidney Crosby on the same line together would be deadly, I will admit that. But let’s get out of fantasy land and admit to ourselves that it won’t happen and shouldn’t happen.

Nov 27, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Chris Kunitz (14) reacts as Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Phil Kessel (81) clears the puck during the second period at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Penguins won 6-5 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Kessel carries a cap hit of $8 million through 2022. Even with an increase in the salary cap this upcoming season, the Penguins already have enough money invested in their core of Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Marc-Andre Fleury. Adding Kessel would put too much money in the already top-heavy Penguins.

With retained salary it could be possible, maybe. But, Toronto has made it clear that they aren’t planning to retain money if they do indeed move Kessel.

Kessel is one of the best goal scorers in the game, but his lack of defensive abilities and his reported lackadaisical effort at times should be a red flag for management. The last thing this team needs is a lazy forward with a diva attitude at times with coaches and the media. The Pittsburgh Penguins need to utilize their available cap space in order to add young wingers who can produce offensively and defensively. Tying up $8 million dollars in one player would be a big mistake for Pittsburgh.

Again, the only way I see a deal like this working is if Toronto retains some of Kessel’s salary. They would need to retain at least $2 million of his salary in order to make it more appealing for the Pens. Toronto has not stated what they would like to make a Kessel trade work, but if I were to bet the asking price is very high.

We’re curious what fans think of this possibility, as it continues to make it’s rounds through social media. Do you think there’s a fit with Kessel and the Pittsburgh Penguins? VOTE below!

Next: If the Pens Trade Brandon Sutter, Carl Soderberg Should be a Priority This Summer

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