There was a ton of drama surrounding the future of then Pittsburgh Penguins star forward Phil Kessel following the conclusion of the 2018 - 2019 National Hockey League regular season, but in the end the player got his way. After reportedly blocking at least one trade the always controversial Kessel got his wish and was reunited with Arizona Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet after a trade between the Penguins and the Coyotes that saw Kessel as the centerpiece.
There is no doubt in regards to which team got the best hockey player here, Kessel has done several times in his career what forward Alex Galchenyuk can only dream about. Galchenyuk is of course the main asset that went back to Pittsburgh in the trade and although both teams also swapped minor league players, it is clear that this deal was mainly about Kessel and Galchenyuk. In spite of the fact that we will have to wait for a few more months before we can see how each player fits within his new team, it seems fair to suggest that the Coyotes may feel like they have already won this deal by a landslide.
What can now only be described as the "Kessel effect" has truly taken root in Arizona and the Coyotes are already reaping the benefits of their big blockbuster move this summer. In a recent article published in the Arizona Republic, reporter Richard Morin laid out just how big of an impact Kessel has already had on the team financially.
Season-ticket sales are up 600% compared to the same week last summer, including a 550% increase in all ticket sales. The Coyotes have also seen an increase in their website traffic mobile app visits and social media engagement over that time.
Now of course money does not translate to success on the ice necessarily, but for a team that has been struggling badly to find a foothold in that market it has to feel like a huge relief. Now I do not believe that a single player can restore the hopes of a struggling franchise but the Coyotes are also coming off a pretty good season all things considered, especially the devastating number of injuries they dealt with, and that combined with the addition of a bonafide star might actually be enough to revitalize this franchise.
Even if Kessel does not pan out in the way the Coyotes were hoping for, it will be hard to argue that this trade has not greatly benefited their franchise already.