There was chatter this summer that veteran forward Phil Kessel was hoping to get traded by the Arizona Coyotes. The rumours quieted down, however on Tuesday night, Darren Dreger reignited them with the latest update:
“I think we can be firm that Phil Kessel’s name will be on that Trade Bait Board. Kessel is in the final year of his contract, and we know that Bill Armstrong and the Coyotes have defined the direction that they’re going in and that will not include Kessel. He wants a fresh start, and he wants to earn a new contract somewhere in the National Hockey League. He’s got some no-trade protection and he wants to go to a competitive, if not a contending team. He’s got the big cap-hit, but the salary is only one million dollars. So, if you have an injury or a team that is struggling offensively, he could be a fit later in the season.”
When it was reported this summer that Kessel wanted out of the desert, it was believed that he already had a destination in mind : he would like to be moved to the Vegas Golden Knights to pursue his NHL career. However, there is not a lot of room in Sin City for the veteran forward. Kessel makes a whopping $8 million this next season, the final year of an eight year, $64 million deal that he signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs back in 2014.
After a disappointing debut campaign for the Coyotes in 2019-20, Kessel bounced back in 2020-21 and put up 20 goals and 43 points in just 56 games. He managed just 38 points in 70 games the season prior. Of course, that’s a far cry from the 30+ goals and 90+ points he was putting up during his time with the Pittsburgh Penguins, but there’s reason to believe that Kessel still has the skill to produce points.
We bet the Coyotes are content waiting until this season’s trade deadline, where Kessel will no doubt draw considerably more interest from rival NHL teams.
Dreger is letting us know what’s up way ahead : the season hasn’t even started!