Has Phil Kessel played his last game as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins? Possibly, if new reports are to be believed that the two sides are looking to split following more disagreements between Kessel and the head coach of the team.
First, reports started to surface that Kessel and Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan have a sour relationship that needs repairing. The two sides apparently don’t see eye-to-eye regarding who Kessel should be skating with, which has led to a very uncomfortable situation that feels familiar to other situations Kessel has been in during his career. There was also an uncomfortable disagreement over whether Kessel was actually injured during the playoffs, and whether that’s what led to his disappointing play.
Now, it’s being reported that the rift between the two may lead to Kessel being traded to a new team.
As seen over on TSN, 105.9 FM Pittsburgh’s Mark Madden reports that the Penguins are going to try and move Kessel this summer – a fact that Kessel is supposedly “OK” with. Madden too cites an “underlying dissatisfaction” between Kessel and the Penguins that may only be resolved with a trade.
At 30, Kessel should be an extremely attractive trade target despite all of the drama. Thanks to the Toronto Maple Leafs retaining $1.2 million in salary, Kessel carries a $6.8 million for each of the next four seasons. That’s not ideal, but it comes with offensive talent (34 goals and 92 points in 2017-18) that doesn’t come around too often. He also holds a modified no-trade clause that would require him to submit a list of eight approved teams prior to a trade.
Should a trade happen, Kessel’s new team will have to find a way to break the pattern that is now becoming a trend with the forward. Is it a coincidence that there’s been similar stories about Kessel not getting along with team management wherever he plays?
It could be a wild summer if Kessel, John Tavares and Erik Karlsson all end up finding new teams.