Just a few short weeks ago we almost saw what likely would have been one of the biggest trades of the offseason when the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Minnesota Wild reportedly hooked up on a deal. Now of course the trade orchestrated between Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford and Minnesota Wild general manager Paul Fenton would never materialize due to one of the players involved, but it may not be dead yet.
I am of course referring to the now highly publicized deal that would have sent Pittsburgh Penguins star forward Phil Kessel to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for Wild forward Jason Zucker. That deal was squashed when Kessel refused to waive his trade protection in order to go to the Wild and rumor has it that the details of that failed trade leaked because both the Penguins and the Wild were unhappy with how the entire fiasco played out. That would seemingly leave this trade dead in the water, but this week TSN insider Bob McKenzie actually shared some insights that may indicate that deal may still end up going through.
"There is no question that the Pittsburgh Penguins are intent on trading Phil Kessel," said McKenzie during an episode of the Bobcast. "That is going to be the core piece that they want to shake up. They had the deal done with the Minnesota Wild for Jason Zucker, and I know a lot of people have reported that there was only going to be Viktor Rask's contract coming over for Jack Johnson's contract and I heard all that but my understanding is that if the trade goes down, and it could still go down, that it would be a 1 for 1 trade Kessel for Zucker."
The key part of those comments of course are the detail about this trade still being alive, and it possibly going down as a 1 for 1 trade between the two sides. So how would this trade happen if Phil Kessel has the power to block it? Well McKenzie hinted at the fact that the Penguins may try and play hardball with Phil in order to get the deal that they want.
"I know that Phil Kessel would like the Pittsburgh Penguins to explore other options for him, he would love to go to the Arizona Coyotes... but I don't believe the Penguins feel like there is a deal to be made there."
"I think Phil is trying to push the Penguins to talk to other teams that he knows have interest in him, that he would be more interested in going to than Minnesota, and I get the sense right now that Pittsburgh is having none of that. I think the latest tact from Pittsburgh will be to say that if we can't get the Kessel for Zucker deal done with Minnesota than fine we will keep Phil. Knowing that it is not obviously the most favorable situation when you are a player like Phil Kessel who knows that the Penguins are trying to move on from."
Now that is very interesting indeed but McKenzie went one step further still.
"I wouldn't be surprised if at some point it gets done with Minnesota, Kessel's no to Pittsburgh wasn't really a hard 100% no..."
It sounds like Kessel for Zucker is still very much in play.