On July 1, 2015, the Penguins shocked the hockey world by buying proper wing Phil Kessel from the Maple Leafs in a multi-player deal. Kessel subsequently grew to become a key contributor to Pittsburgh’s consecutive Stanley Cup championships in 2016 and 2017.
Following the Penguins’ second-round elimination final month, some pundits floated the notion of buying and selling Kessel this summer season. Ron Prepare dinner of the Pittsburgh Publish-Gazette took it a step additional, blaming the winger’s bitter relationship with head coach Mike Sullivan for “torpedoing” the Penguins quest for a 3rd straight Cup.
Most observers thought of it unlikely that Kessel can be moved. Then got here final week’s report from Pittsburgh’s 105.9 FM’s Mark Madden (by way of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Assessment’s Tim Benz) claiming the Penguins would to attempt to commerce the 30-year-old winger this summer season, including that Kessel was apparently “OK with that.” Madden cited Kessel’s relationship with Sullivan, together with his unhappiness over seeing much less taking part in time on Evgeni Malkin’s line this season, as the rationale behind it.
The Athletic’s Josh Yohe subsequently stated it was his understanding the Penguins weren’t actively procuring Kessel, “however they’re keen to hear if anybody makes a suggestion.” If the connection between Kessel and Sullivan is past restore, Yohe recommends buying and selling the winger, even on the danger of getting a return that does not enhance their offensive manufacturing subsequent season.
Regardless of his status for clashing with coaches, Kessel’s a dependable scorer coming off a career-best 92-point season. Whereas he was criticized for his 2018 playoff efficiency (one objective, 9 factors in 12 playoff video games), he performed very effectively within the earlier two postseasons.
Transferring Kessel, nonetheless, will not be simple. He is signed by way of 2021-22 with an eight-team commerce listing. Whereas the Penguins carry $6.eight million of his $eight million annual cap hit (the Toronto Maple Leafs picked up $1.2 million), that is nonetheless a hefty contract to maneuver.
If the Penguins are listening to presents, they may search an reasonably priced younger scoring ahead as a part of the return. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman studies listening to the Penguins have “some actual curiosity” in Max Domi of the Coyotes, although he did not hyperlink the 23-year-old left wing to Kessel as a potential commerce swap.
Domi netted simply 9 objectives and 45 factors in 82 video games this season however nonetheless has loads of upside. He is finishing his entry-level contract and can be significantly extra reasonably priced for the Penguins than Kessel, although the latter could possibly be unwilling to simply accept a commerce to the perennially rebuilding Coyotes.
No huge strikes for the Lightning?
The Lightning entered the 2018 NHL playoffs thought of the favourite from the Jap Convention to achieve the Stanley Cup Ultimate. Their elimination by the Capitals within the convention finals was a disappointing finish to their season.
Tom Jones of the Tampa Bay Occasions reported Lightning common supervisor Steve Yzerman would not intend to overreact to this setback. Jones’ colleague Roger Mooney stated Yzerman nonetheless believes his membership’s championship window stays extensive open.
Jones did not anticipate any main adjustments for the Lightning this summer season. Mooney feels Yzerman would possibly make a minor transfer or two to make sure his membership stays a Cup contender.
Mooney additionally famous heart Tyler Johnson‘s no-trade clause kicks in on July 1, suggesting it is one thing to be thought of. He questioned if Yzerman would possibly ponder transferring the 27-year-old heart whereas he nonetheless has the flexibleness to take action. Johnson is one yr into his seven-year, $35 million contract and tallied 21 objectives and 50 factors in 81 video games this season.
The Lightning have over $68 million invested in 18 gamers, with all core gamers beneath contract by way of subsequent season. Their notable free brokers embody forwards J.T. Miller and Cedric Paquette. Yzerman has ample cap room to re-sign these gamers and nonetheless have sufficient to make a minor addition or two.
Subsequent summer season, nonetheless, such notables as Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Level, Yanni Gourde, Anton Stralman, Dan Girardi and Braydon Coburn have to be re-signed or changed. That would immediate Yzerman to unencumber some cap room now. He may additionally use extra youth and velocity on his blueline. Peddling Johnson and his $5 million cap hit for an reasonably priced defenseman could possibly be a worthwhile possibility.