The Pittsburgh Penguins have traded forward Phil Kessel to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for Alex Galchenyuk.
The Penguins also receive Pierre-Oliver Joseph, while the Coyotes will receive a defenceman Dane Birks and a fourth-round pick for the 2021 NHL Entry Draft.
“We felt the ability to add a scorer was the primary need for our group,” Coyotes GM John Chayka said. “Phil has been one of the best offensive producers in the league for a long time and we think he’s going to come in motivated and ready to go.”
The Coyotes were indeed short of offence, as our What Went Wrong series pointed out. They notched just 209 goals in 2018-2019, but Galchenyuk was one of the team’s leading scorers with 19 goals.
Kessel, meanwhile, had 27 goals for the Penguins in 2018-2019. He picked up 55 assists as well.
The 31-year-old had four years with the Penguins, winning two Stanley Cups in the process.
Kessel has scored at least 30 goals six times during his 13-year NHL career and he has three years remaining on his current contract, which carries a cap hit of $6.8 million annually. When his deal expires in 2022, he will be an unrestricted free agent.
For Kessel, he’s been dogged by a reputation for turbulence. Looking at his statistics, he’s been a steadfast offensive performer. But he’s reportedly struggled with coaching, which is why his relationship with current bench boss of the Coyotes Rick Tocchet is of note. Tocchet was able to get a great deal out of Kessel when he was assistant in Pittsburgh.
“For all the noise that goes on about him, he’s got two Stanley Cups,” Chayka said. “Toc knows him extremely well and he knows what we’re getting.”
Galchenyuk, meanwhile, has a year to go on his current contract. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent next summer. His deal carries a cap hit of $4.9 million and he’s got five consecutive 40-point seasons under his belt.
Of note is that Galchenyuk may finally have the opportunity to play wing in Pittsburgh. That could lead to some dazzling combinations, like with centre Evgeni Malkin.
On paper, this is a win for both clubs. The Coyotes get that offensive boost, while the Penguins get to dump some salary, get a cheaper player and generate some openings as they address what went wrong against the New York Islanders in the playoffs.
(Lead photo credit: NHL.com)