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Report: Penguins and Wild talking trade to send Phil Kessel to Minnesota

Is Phil Minnesota bound? Seems like it might happen if he wants to waive his no trade clause to go there

Pittsburgh Penguins v Arizona Coyotes Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Athletic writers Michael Russo and Josh Yohe have reported serious, serious negotiations between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Minnesota Wild which would send star forward Phil Kessel away from the Pens.

Involved would be Kessel and Jason Zucker as the center-pieces. From there, there’s talk that two bad contracts might be included with Jack Johnson and Victor Rask being added onto the deal.

Yohe also drops this important tidbit, which is always critical to remember when talking Kessel trade:

The deal has been on the table for days. It is believed the only holdup at this time is Kessel, who has the right to veto the trade.

Phil reportedly is thinking it over. Also per Yohe:

numerous sources confirmed that Kessel is unsure if he wants to play in Minnesota. He did research on Minnesota and the Wild during the past week, the sources said. Kessel is very close friends with Ryan Suter. Both are natives of Madison, Wisconsin

So we’ll have to wait and see. Definitely looks like a lot of fire behind this smoke.

What would it mean on the ice? Well it would definitely mean getting younger since Kessel turns 32 before next season, Zucker is 27. It’s a salary savings but not much of one, especially since Rask ($4.0) carries a cap hit higher than Johnson ($3.25).

Zucker would help the Pens look better on a spreadsheet, since he does drive player better than Phil and does more positive things away from the puck than Kessel:

But let’s also keep in mind this trade would be sending a lot of scoring away. Phil Kessel has 303 points in four seasons as a Penguin. Zucker has just 176 points in the last four seasons. Heck, Kessel has 174 points in the last two seasons alone. That’s a major talent step-back for Pittsburgh.

And that’s not just all power play driven, Kessel has 43 5v5 points in 2018-19 and 84 5v5 points in the last two seasons. Zucker had just 26 5v5 points last year and 65 in the past two seasons.

Obviously a lot more to come, especially if this goes down. And we haven’t even touched on the fact that at least there’s no illusions that the Pens’ brass doesn’t recognize that at least they have a Jack Johnson problem. That, if nothing else is a great sign to see his name pop up in rumors — regardless about the return. Can’t fix a problem until it is admitted so it’s positive to see that hopefully Pittsburgh will find a way to move on from their worst defenseman.

But for now chime in with an instant reaction:


If the reported trade of Phil Kessel + Jack Johnson for Jason Zucker + Victor Rask goes down exactly as reported, you would best be described as...

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    For it all the way two thumbs up, Pens are better off
    (476 votes)
  • 33%
    Could be talked into it being a good idea, moderately into it
    (891 votes)
  • 8%
    Totally neutral
    (240 votes)
  • 22%
    Slightly against it, bad idea for the Pens
    (597 votes)
  • 17%
    Vehemently against it, Pens are getting ripped off
    (473 votes)
2677 votes total Vote Now

UPDATE: a national voice chimes in that Phil is not - at the moment - going to co-operate to agree to this trade and go to Minnesota. This is obviously a very bad development for the Pens. We’ll see what comes of the eight teams on his list are, but they were obviously chosen as places Kessel/Kessel’s agent didn’t think would be inclined to want to add him. (As in exactly where Pittsburgh was in 2015 when Toronto had to eat Nick Spaling’s bad contract + retain 15% of Phil’s salary just to trade him for only two decent assets).