It seems that at about this time every year since he was acquired the Phil Kessel trade rumours stick their head through the ice surface of PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh.
This time around the rumours may have some validity. It seems that general manager Jim Rutherford is more open to trading his star 31-year-old right winger to seek new pastures. It has been reported that head coach Mike Sullivan is tiring of Kessel’s antics and did all he could to keep the team together. There was even speculation that Kessel and Evgeni Malkin were not seeing eye-to-eye.
Phil Kessel Trade Rumours Again
There are many teams who would love to add a proven scorer (even if he is a pain) to their roster. Teams needing scoring come to mind the most.
Like the Arizona Coyotes. Kessel being rumoured to join his former assistant coach Rick Tocchet (who was in Pittsburgh) is not old news. Last June it was also talked about but nothing transpired. Can the Coyotes who were a horrible 28th in the NHL in scoring with just 2.55 goals per game, be looking at adding the talented forward again?
This time the likelihood seems a bit more plausible with the Arizona club missing the playoffs by a mere four points. The Colorado Avalanche finished strongly to take the last wild-card spot. What general manager John Chayka of the Coyotes must be thinking is… what would it take to convince Kessel to come to Arizona? And what assets would Chayka need to give up to get him?
One Trade Proposal
If Kessel has the Coyotes on his list of teams he would accept a trade to, then who could the Yotes offer for Kessel’s services?
One suggestion could be offering young right-wing Christian Fischer along with right wing/left wing Richard Panik. Fischer has completed two years of his entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent on July 1st next year. If signed he would be expected to get a raise and a longer-term contract perhaps in the $2-3 million range. Panik is an unrestricted free agent and depending on who you talk to may or may not be in the future plans of the Arizona team.
Fischer is just 22-years-old and has really not progressed offensively. At 6-foot-2 and 214 pounds, he’s just the type of player who would fit in nicely in Pittsburgh. He hasn’t exactly burned up the scoreboard with just 29 goals and 25 assists for 54 points in 157 games. He has just a 0.34 points per game average. Because of his size, he is a good defensive player and can crash the net. The Coyotes were hoping he could develop into a power forward type player who could resemble Shane Doan.
Panik, 28-years-old has completed his two-year $5.6 million contract and could also help the Penguins with his physical style of play as well as being an above average penalty killer. He has deposited 22 goals and 30 assists for 52 points in 110 games with the Coyotes. That comes to a 0.47 points per game average. He is a good possession player with 51.8 percent Corsi-for and a +2.6 relative Corsi.
Now if that were not enough to entice the Penguins then the Coyotes do retain the 14th overall selection in the NHL draft.
Phil Kessel’s Stats Are Difficult to Not Like
Giving up the offensive games of both Panik and Fischer wouldn’t be a difficult endeavour considering that Kessel has averaged 1.06 points per game over his last two seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Another facet of Kessel’s offensive game which could really assist the Coyotes is his power-play goals. He has averaged 12 extra-man tallies the last two seasons and has added 27 power plays assists to his arsenal. That’s the kind of explosiveness that the Coyotes now lack.
With the Arizona defence and goaltending set and playing well, the offence is the main weakness that they need to improve upon.
And Phil Kessel can do exactly that.