National Hockey League forward Phil Kessel has been something of an enigma for his entire tenure in the league and although there is no doubting the level of talent that he brings to the table, he's never really been able to find a long term fit regardless of where he has played.
On Sunday the Arizona Coyotes fired head coach Rick Tocchet, a man that many considered to be the Kessel whisperer dating back to his time as an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins when Kessel was also a part of that franchise, and now many have wondered about what the future could hold for the polarizing NHL sniper.
On Monday NHL insider Elliotte Friedman discussed the possibility of Kessel being traded, citing both the fact that the Coyotes are looking to get younger moving forward as well as the fact that Kessel is in the final year of his current contract, and he strongly hinted at the fact that the Coyotes will at the very least try to move him in the offseason. Helping the Coyotes here is the fact that Kessel is on an expiring contract, carries a reduced cap hit thanks to salary retention on the part of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the fact the he will be owed relatively little in real money next season with his signing bonus ($5 million) covering most of that. In fact Kessel will carry a salary of just $1 million next season after that bonus is paid out, a number that could make him an attractive option for a number of teams.
"They are going to see if anyone wants to go for that," said Friedman on his 31 Thoughts podcast.
Although Kessel was a very productive forward for them this season putting up 20 goals and 23 assists for a total of 43 points over just 56 games played this season, Friedman cited the Coyotes desperate need for draft picks and prospects as motivation for why this trade could happen.
"Arizona needs pick and prospects right?" asked Friedman. "I wonder if that's what they do."
With Tocchet no longer in Arizona it may very well be that Kessel himself would welcome such a move, although where he may end up as a result of such a trade remains to be seen.