As the NHL’s tradeline approaches the rumors continue to swirl around highly sought-after players. One Such athlete is Phil Kessel of the Arizona Coyotes. As Kessel’s hall of fame career slowly winds to a close, he could still be a valuable addition to a cup-contending team. Hailed as a winger with a ton of speed, quick release, and dangerous shot, many teams are looking to trade for the 34-year-old to help improve their middle-six forward groups.
Phil Kessel Career Summary
Phil Kessel’s NHL career began in 2006 when he was drafted fifth overall by the Boston Bruins. Kessel played three seasons for the Bruins producing 66 goals and 60 assists for 126 points in 222 regular-season games. He would score nine goals and six assists during his 15 playoff games as part of the Bruins. Following the 2008-09 season Kessel was sent to the Toronto Maple Leafs in a massive trade during the offseason. He would spend six seasons with the Maple Leafs producing 181 goals and 213 assists for 394 points in 446 regular-season games. The Maple Leafs would make the playoffs just once with Kessel on the roster. He would score four goals and two assists in the seven playoff games Kessel played in for the Maple Leafs. During the 2015 offseason Kessel would once again be traded this time to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Kessel played four seasons in Pittsburgh scoring 110 goals and 193 assists in 328 games. In the playoffs, he would play 65 games scoring 20 goals and 36 assists to help the Penguins win two Stanley Cups. Kessel and head coach Mike Sullivan seemingly had a falling out resulting in a trade ahead of the 2019-20 season. Kessel has played 2.5 seasons so far with Arizona producing 40 goals and 74 assists across 178 games. The Coyotes have only reached the playoffs once with Kessel. In those nine games, he had just a single goal and three assists. This season Kessel has played 52 games scoring six goals and 27 assists.
Potential Landing Spot #1- Boston Bruins
A reunion with the team that drafted him just makes too much sense. The Bruins up until recently have struggled to get scoring from any of their forwards besides David Pastrnak. Kessel has only managed to score six goals on the season with the Coyotes but it is not completely his fault as Arizona completely gutted their roster during the offseason so Kessel hasn’t had the most talented players alongside him.
Currently, the Bruins’ top line is Brad Marchand on the left wing, Patrice Bergeron at the center spot, and Jake Debrusk on the right wing. The Bruins’ second line has gone under a little reconstruction that has majorly upgraded the scoring production as Taylor Hall, Erik Haula, and David Pastrnak have been a force to be reckoned with. Now the Bruins’ third line has been effective in creating scoring chances but not capitalizing on their opportunities. Phil Kessel would be the perfect player to help out with these scoring woes. The Bruins’ current third line is Trent Frederic on the wing, with Charlie Coyle at the center, and Craig Smith on the other wing. Kessel could move onto the wing moving Trent Frederic down to the fourth line. Not only would this help the third line capitalize on more chance it would provide more skill on the fourth line. The reinvigorated third line would make three solid lines that can all put the puck in the net at any point during the game.
Previously the Coyotes stated they would accept a third-round pick for Kessel on a 50% retained salary. Now the Bruins only have just over one million dollars of available cap space so they will have to throw in defenseman John Moore. Moore was a part of the Bruins for the last few seasons but this season he was sent to play for the AHL’s Providence Bruins. The Boston Bruins will have to upgrade their draft pick from a 3rd pick to a 2nd round pick. The final deal would be John Moore and the Bruins 2022 2nd round pick to the Coyotes for Phil Kessel. This would free up roughly 1.5 million dollars in cap space for the Coyotes while adding to their draft pool. The Bruins cap space would dip under one million dollars to 700k.
Potential Landing Spot #2- New York Rangers
The next potential landing spot for Phil Kessel is the New York Rangers. The Rangers have ample cap space to handle Kessel’s contract. New York has also been dealing with lots of injuries and has a need for another scorer in the lineup. Unfortunately, the Rangers don’t have a third-round pick this season so that will cost them as they will have to give up their fourth-round pick in 2022 and their third-round pick in 2023. The Coyotes benefit by adding to their draft stockpile as well as clearing cap room and a roster spot. The Rangers second line will transform to a trio of Artemi Panarin, Ryan Strome, and Phil Kessel. This combination will be lethal to any opponents they face further on in the regular season and in the playoffs.
Playing alongside talented players once again Kessel may experience a career revitalization similar to the one potential linemate experienced when he joined the Rangers. Before coming to the Rangers Strome played for the Edmonton Oilers and New York Islanders. Strome played 258 games for the Islanders over the course of four seasons. He scored 45 goals and 81 assists for 126 points. He was traded to the Oilers before the 2017-18 season and played 100 games with the team. In his first season in Edmonton, he produced a modest 13 goals and 21 assists. He struggled in the following season scoring just a single goal and assist in 18 games leading to a trade to the Rangers. Joining forces with Artemi Panarin, Strome’s production has reached new heights as he surpassed the 50 point plateau multiple times. In his time with the Rangers Strome has played 237 games scoring 60 goals and 117 assists. At 34 years old Kessel may not be able to turn back into the player he was in the 2018-19 season as a point per game player but he sees a significant improvement in his play and point totals playing on a line with an NHL superstar in Artemi Panarin and a very respected two-way player Ryan Strome.
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